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Yeddyurappa revolts, stakes CM claim

Bangalore, March 19: B.S. Yeddyurappa has threatened to quit the BJP with his purportedly 60-odd loyalist MLAs and reduce the state government to a minority if not reinstated as chief minister by tomorrow.

The rebellion comes at a time his handpicked successor, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, has established himself in his chair with the full backing of the party’s state and central leaderships.

Sources said Yeddyurappa had issued his ultimatum to party chief Nitin Gadkari last night, just a week after publicly declaring he would work for the party rather than fuel a revolt. He has refused to talk to Gowda, who took over after Yeddyurappa was forced to resign last July over corruption allegations.

Party sources said Yeddyurappa had the backing of “at least” 65 of the party’s 121 MLAs in the 224-member House, but the number of his supporters could change depending on the next few days’ developments.

The “official” group led by Gowda and state BJP president K.S. Eashwarappa enjoys the support of about 45 MLAs, while some 10-12 BJP lawmakers and most of the 11 Independents supporting the government are said to be “fence-sitters”.

The party tonight appeared to signal that it was not in a mood to yield to pressure tactics. The state unit suspended Yeddyurappa’s former political secretary B.J. Puttaswamy hours after he filed his nomination as a rogue candidate for the March 30 Rajya Sabha polls.

Notices have been issued to 10 MLAs from the Yeddyurappa camp, including irrigation minister Basavaraj Bommai, who had signed Puttaswamy’s nomination papers. Puttaswamy had filed as the third nominee of the party, which has already named candidates for the two seats on offer, but his papers will now become invalid.

As recently as March 11, Yeddyurappa had told a rally in Hubli that he would work for the party and lead it to the next state polls, due by May 2013. But late last night, he ferried his supporters to a resort some 30km off the city, apparently to prevent the rival camp from poaching on them.

Today, he stayed incommunicado at the resort with his supporters.

Gowda and Eashwarappa met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh officials to evaluate the situation.