Ending days of suspense, BS Yediyurappa on Monday announced that he would send in his resignation as Karnataka Chief Minister this afternoon, exactly two years after he took over the top job.
Yediyurappa made the announcement while speaking at an event to highlight the achievements of two years of the BJP government he headed in Karnataka.
“I have made up my mind. After lunch, I will go to the Raj Bhavan and hand in my resignation,” a teary-eyed Yediyurappa said. “I will be doing this with happiness, not sorrow,” saying he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda for ‘giving a leader like me over 75 years of age an opportunity to rule the state for two years."
Who will be next?
Despite the current incumbent B S Yediyurappa ending weeks of speculation by putting in his papers on Monday, the suspense over a new Chief Minister continues to grip Karnataka.
Over the past week, the names of several leaders have been speculated upon as those in the race to be the CM. These included Prahlad Joshi, C T Ravi, Murugesh Nirani, Basavaraj Bommai, Arvind Bellad and the BJP's national joint general secretary B L Santosh. The speculation relies largely on the caste factor, experience and the leaders' personal equations with the BJP central leadership. These leaders come from the Lingayat, Vokkaliga and Brahmin communities --- the first two communities form the two big voting blocs in the state.
"I will not suggest anybody's name. It is left to the High Command," Yediyurappa told reporters on Monday soon after he handed over his resignation to Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Incidentally, exactly a decade ago, Yediyurappa, and Karnataka, witnessed a similar change of guard. But things were vastly different then.
Back in August 2011, Yediyurappa was forced by the then BJP leadership to quit as CM following an iron-ore mining scam. At the time, a belligerent Yediyurappa is said to have had his way in choosing a successor - D V Sadananda Gowda, a Vokkaliga, who stepped into his shoes in 2011 (of course, a year later, there was another change at the top and Jagadish Shettar became CM).
This time, however, the 78-year-old BJP strongman comes across -- going by his public statements -- as having struck a conciliatory approach vis-a-vis the BJP central leadership even though scores of Lingayat seers have rallied behind him. Even on Sunday, the pontiffs of various mathas had gathered in Bangalore, urging the party to let him continue.
"There has been no pressure from Delhi. I volunteered to resign to give somebody else an opportunity," Yediyurappa told reporters. The decision to quit was taken a couple of months ago, he said.
An emotional exit
Yediyurappa on Monday marked two years of his government where he announced his resignation in an emotional speech. "It has always been a test of fire (agni pariksha) for me."
In a teary-eyed address in the Karnataka Assembly, Yediyurappa invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had asked BSY to consider being a minister at the Centre. "But I said I will be in Karnataka", Yediyurappa said.
In the past week, BSY, who has been the BJP's poster boy in Karnataka had repeatedly said he was awaiting instructions from the party leadership about his continuation in the office. Earlier on Sunday at the district headquarters town of Belagavi, Yediyurappa reiterated that he will abide by the decision of the party's central leadership.