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Yeddy quit signal in snub to Jaitley

New Delhi, Oct. 3: B.S. Yeddyurappa is set to do a Kalyan Singh in Karnataka.

The former chief minister — whose projection as helmsman gave the BJP the cutting edge in the 2008 elections and propelled it to form its first government in the south — is readying to quit the party and float his own outfit by December, four months ahead of the state polls.

Yeddyurappa refused to meet senior leader Arun Jaitley in Bangalore on Monday. A source close to Yeddyurappa said as soon as he heard that Jaitley, who informally looks after the BJP’s affairs in Karnataka, would be in town, he left for his hometown in Shimoga’s Shikaripura saying he had a “pre-planned” event to attend.

Agencies quoted Yeddyurappa as telling reporters in Shimoga: “I am not interested in meeting him (Jaitley). Why should I meet him when he is listening to my detractors within the party? I aspire to be neither the CM nor the state BJP president. I know my way forward.”

Jaitley was the only central leader Yeddyurappa trusted since he had to resign as chief minister last year over corruption charges. But an aide said he had felt lately that even Jaitley was not “doing enough” for him. Sources close to the Rajya Sabha Opposition leader maintained, however, that unless Yeddyurappa was exonerated in all cases, the BJP could not consider rehabilitating him.

Asked why Yeddyurappa was not biting the bullet right away as he had made up his mind to leave the BJP, a source said: “For two reasons. One, if he leaves now, several BJP MLAs will follow him and the government will lose its majority. Yeddyurappa would then be accused of toppling a government headed by a Lingayat.”

Like Yeddyurappa, incumbent chief minister Jagadish Shettar is from the powerful intermediate caste of the Lingayats. The BJP brass replaced Sadananda Gowda with Shettar precisely to appease the Lingayats, who had become restive since Yeddyurappa stepped down.

Like Yeddyurappa, Shettar has pandered to the interests of the influential religious monasteries run by the Lingayat clergy.

The BJP’s only hope is that a big chunk of the Lingayats, who make up 22 per cent of the voters, might continue to back the party even after Yeddyurappa’s exit because of Shettar.

The other explanation for the delay in starting a new party is that Yeddyurappa wants to wait for the Gujarat election results. If Narendra Modi secures a third term, Yeddyurappa’s assessment is that there will be “no stopping” the Gujarat chief minister from ascending to a “powerful” position in the BJP’s central leadership, an aide of the Karnataka leader said.

“Yeddyurappa has a good equation with Modi and expects him to be more sympathetic to him than the Delhi cabal. If indeed Modi shows signs of that, he could consider staying back in the BJP,” the aide said.

However, BJP sources in Delhi said they were “reconciled” to Yeddyurappa’s departure and were looking at life beyond him. “We’ve tolerated his shenanigans enough. Let him do what he wants, we will try and make the best of the post-Yeddyurappa situation,” a source said.

If Yeddyurappa does set up his party, the Karnataka elections next summer will see a quandrangular fight involving the Congress, BJP, H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) and the unborn entity.