A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator's comments about Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa have revived talks about a change in leadership, only to be strongly refuted again by the party.
"He (Mr Yediyurappa) does everything for Shivamogga...He will be done in some time...His time has also come," Basangouda P Yatnal, a BJP Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), said on Monday in Bijapur district, implying that the Chief Minister cares only for his own south Karnataka assembly constituency.
Mr Yatnal then went on to quote fellow BJP leader Umesh Katti's jibe at Mr Yediyurappa asking if "he was Shivamogga Chief Minister or Karnataka Chief Minister".
"The Prime Minister has said that the next Chief Minister will be from northern Karnataka…after Yediyurappa...That is almost finalised," Mr Yatnal said, highlighting that northern Karnataka elected around 100 MLAs that made Mr Yediyurappa the Chief Minister.
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Ashwath Narayan, however, refuted any suggestions of a change at the top, reiterating that Mr Yediyurappa was the BJP leader in the state.
"There is no question of changing chief minister. He (Mr Yediyurappa) is our chief minister and will continue to be our chief minister," Mr Narayan said.
Both Mr Yatnal and Mr Katti have in the past been critical of the Karnataka Chief Minister, frequently pointing out that it is northern Karnataka that elects most BJP MLAs in the state, helping others become Chief Minister.
Mr Yatnal's comments come weeks after reports that speculation was rife about Mr Yediyurappa being replaced after the Bihar assembly polls (October 28 - November 7) or after the budget presentation in March 2021.
This was in keeping with the BJP's policy of making the way out for leaders aged 75 years and above. Reports had also referred to 100-odd MLAs from northern Karnataka being unhappy.
Mr Yediyurappa, who represents Shivamogga, is 77-years-old.
The Karnataka BJP had refuted all such reports in September, too.