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A day after he met with heads of mutts in Bengaluru, a top religious leader warned the Centre against changing the Chief Minister. "Any government needs to be independent. But if the central government keeps interfering, no Chief Minister can do his best,"said Sirigere Sanehalli Swamiji. "If the Chief Minister is changed often, it is difficult for officers to work. The central government must consider this seriously and allow the Chief Minister to work," he added.
Yesterday, Mr Yediyurappa met mutt chiefs, or powerful priests of the state, in what many see as a message to the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The political and religious leaders of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community -- which comprises 16 per cent of the state's population and is seen the BJP's big support base in the state -- are backing the Chief Minister. Several of them have warned the BJP against any move to dislodge the 78-year-old, who also belongs to the community.
Unusually, Mr Yediyurappa has received support from a Lingayat leader even in the opposition Congress.
"BJP may face the wrath of Lingayats if they ill treat tall leader (Yediyurappa). BJP should value the contribution of Yediyurappa and treat him with dignity," tweeted Congress leader MB Patil, admitting that the proposed changes "may be internal matters" of the BJP.
The BJP's state unit retorted: "MB Patil and his guru Siddaramaiah tried their best to divide Veerashaivas and Lingayats. Today, Sri Patil is daydreaming that he can emerge as Lingayat leader by expressing FAKE concern for Lingayat community. People are not living in Rahul's Paradise to believe him."
As a Lingayat, Mr Yediyurappa represents a dominant caste in Karnataka, which is seen as a BJP vote base. This was believed to be a big reason for his unchallenged clout in the party over the years.
Speculation that the BJP may be inclined to remove its first and only Chief Minister in south India peaked when Mr Yediyurappa took a chartered flight to Delhi to meet with PM Modi and other BJP leaders. After his meeting with the Prime Minister, reports suggested that he had offered to resign citing his health.
But on record, the 78-year-old has firmly denied any discussion of resignation. Mr Yediyurappa completes two years in office on July 26 - and he has called for a state legislature party meeting on that day in what appears to be another pressure tactic.
Even Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the man many believe could replace Mr Yediyurappa, backed him: "The Chief Minister will continue. He himself has said it. Our in charge Arun Singh had also said it. Through all these speculation and rumours they are trying to create political instability. CM is very strong, he is our leader and he will continue to be the CM," he said.
A section of Karnataka BJP MLAs have been vocal in their criticism of Mr Yediyurappa and his son Vijayendra. But the party has done little to silence the critics, raising speculation about which side it is on.