- Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has announced his resignation
- He broke down at a two-year celebration of his government today
- He will remain caretaker Chief Minister as BJP decides on a replacement
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa broke down at a two-year celebration of his government today and announced his resignation, ending weeks of speculation raised by unrelenting calls for his removal by a section of the BJP in the state.
"I have decided to resign. I will meet the Governor after lunch," Mr Yediyurappa, 78, declared in a tearful speech at the Vidhan Sabha premises, talking about being tested constantly in the two years of his fourth term - possibly his last, given the BJP's age limit of 75 years for posts. Soon after, he walked to the building next door to hand in his resignation.
He will remain caretaker Chief Minister as his party decides on a replacement; sources say a decision could take two or three days.
"I thank PM (Narendra) Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda. They gave me the chance to rule as Chief Minister despite being over 75. I had decided to resign some time back. I thought it best to resign today as we mark completion of two years in this term," he told reporters.
"Nobody pressured me to resign. I did it on my own so that someone else can take over as Chief Minister after the completion of two years of government. I''ll work to bring BJP back in power in the next election. I've not given name of anyone who will succeed me," Mr Yediyurappa added.
Earlier, in his speech, he said: "When (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) was Prime Minister he asked me to be a minister at the Centre. But I said I will be in Karnataka."
The BJP had grown in Karnataka, he said, adding: "It has always been an agnipariksha (trial by fire) for me. These last two years it was Covid."
He also tweeted a tribute to his party's icons and top leaders.
Our tallest leaders, starting from Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyayaji, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Atalji, Advaniji, Murali Manohar Joshiji have inspired me to dedicate myself to serve the nation. I have also received immense love and support of Modiji, Amit Shahji and Naddaji.— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) July 26, 2021
The resignation was widely anticipated but Mr Yediyurappa kept everyone guessing till yesterday. Even a minister claimed surprise. "It was a surprise for me. He told me that he may receive a favorable decision from the high command by July 26. But we all have to abide by the norms of the party," said K Sudhakar.
Last week, there were many appeals to the BJP in his favour - party loyalists, priests and influential members of his Lingayat community, including an opposition Congress leader.
On Sunday evening, he told reporters that he had heard "nothing till now" from the BJP.
"Nothing has come till now... In the morning there is a programme to mark two years of government. I will speak about the achievements in those two years. After that, you will know the progress," he told reporters.
"I have decided that I will work till the very last minute. I already said two months ago that I was ready to resign whenever I was asked to. I will say it again - until now I have got no message from the centre. As soon as it comes, if they ask me to continue I will. If not, I will resign and work for that party," he said.
The buzz about his exit, an undercurrent in Karnataka for months now amid resentment against Mr Yediyurappa and his son, became louder when he suddenly flew to Delhi by chartered flight earlier this month to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders.
After his meeting with PM Modi, Mr Yediyurappa said there had been no discussion about his resignation. Days later, he said he was ready to resign whenever he was asked to.
Mr Yediyurappa, the BJP's first Chief Minister in the south, took power in 2019 after a dramatic coup that saw the Janata Dal Secular-Congress government crashing after the abrupt resignation of 17 rebels. Most of the rebels later joined the BJP and contested elections. Many of them were accommodated in Mr Yediyurappa's cabinet.
But Mr Yediyurappa never could keep everyone happy. Disgruntled BJP leaders like MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, Tourism Minister CP Yogeshwar and legislative council member AH Vishwanath repeatedly attacked him over corruption allegations and accused him of letting his son Vijayendra interfere in the government.
The BJP put off a tough call in Karnataka for months; Mr Yediyurappa, a charismatic and powerful politician, was key to the party's rise in Karnataka, its gateway to the south, and his brief exit from the BJP in the past saw the party losing elections.