Bangalore: BJP central leaders Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradhan held discussions with senior party figures from Karnataka today on former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa's demand to make him the State President or face the prospect of his exit from the party.
Yeddyurappa left for his home town of Shikaripura in Shimoga district last night to attend a "pre-arranged" function, making it clear he has no intention of meeting Jaitley, a move seen in some quarters as a "snub" to the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
State BJP President K S Eshwarappa and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka met the two leaders last night. Eshwarappa briefed Jaitley and Pradhan, who is in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka, about Yeddyurappa's repeated outbursts against the party.
In recent weeks, Yeddyurappa had openly attacked BJP central high command, even accused the party President Nitin Gadkari of not honouring his promise of making him the state party chief in no time after he quit as Chief Minister more than a year ago. The state BJP strongman was particularly seething in anger after the party stripped his loyalists Ayanur Manjunath and V Dhananjaya Kumar of their positions as spokespersons.
Jaitley declined to talk to reporters at the party office after he elicited the opinion of BJP leaders on the Yeddyurappa issue. Some of them told him that Yeddyurappa would leave the party if he is not given the post. "BJP is likely to ask Yeddyurappa to come to Delhi for talks shortly", a party source said.
Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats, and the BJP can ill-afford to lose a resourceful Yeddyurappa, who has promised that under his leadership, it would bag 20, party sources said. On the other hand putting Yeddyurappa on the party saddle again means antagonising the anti-Yeddyurappa camp, which could trigger fresh wave of factionalism.
Elections in Karntaka are due in May. Yeddyurappa has said he would wait till December before taking a call on continuing in the party or parting ways.
Meanwhile, sections of BJP sought to downplay Jaitley's visit, saying he came to the city to witness the final match of the Hockey India League Championship as guest of honour. Jaitley is a board member of the League.