Bangalore/New Delhi: The leadership battle in Karnataka`s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intensified Wednesday with rival groups mounting pressure on central leaders to settle the issue early.
Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa were in New Delhi, meeting party central leaders to brief them on the political situation in the state and to seek approval for cabinet expansion.
As they met senior leaders LK Advani and Rajnath Singh in the national capital, back in Bangalore former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa was closeted with his staunch supporters who want him to be proclaimed the sole leader of the party in Karnataka.
"There is confusion in the state unit over the leadership issue," Eshwarappa told reporters in New Delhi after he and Gowda met Advani and Rajnath Singh.
Eshwarappa and Gowda are learnt to have urged the two party veterans that the central leadership should end the confusion early by publicly declaring its stand.
Yeddyurappa and his supporters have ridiculed the central leadership`s formula of collective leadership to keep him and his rivals happy.
"Collective leadership is meaningless. Everybody knows I built the party. Every house has one `yajaman` (head of the family). Otherwise it will lead to problems," Yeddyurappa had said recently.
Eshwarappa had hit back, saying: "BJP is not Congress. For it the country is first, party second and individuals last. Our central leaders have decided on collective leadership and everybody has to abide by it."
Ever since he was forced out of chief ministership July 31 over corruption charges, Yeddyurappa has been trying to get back the post.
Since central leaders have taken a stand that he will not be re-instated unless he is cleared of all charges, Yeddyurappa and his supporters have been lobbying with party central leaders to declare him the sole leader of the state unit.
"Everybody knows that it was Yeddyurappa who picked Gowda to be his successor. He is the undisputed leader of the party and he will remain so for us," state excise minister MP Renukacharya told reporters in Bangalore after a meeting at the former chief minister`s residence.
The meeting was attended by ministers Shobha Karandlage, C.M. Uadasi, Umesh Katti and several others.
Besides the leadership issue, cabinet expansion is another headache for the BJP central leaders.
There are seven vacancies and too many aspirants from pro and anti-Yeddyurappa camps.
Indicating he was bent on hard bargaining, Yeddyurappa had said that cabinet expansion would not be an easy task for Gowda.
Karnataka can have a 34-member ministry including the Chief Minister.
Gowda and Eshwarappa will also meet party chief Nitin Gadkari and other senior leaders, hoping the parleys would help end the raging battle in the state unit.
Gowda, a Lok Sabha member, was Dec 22 elected to the state legislative council. He met Speaker Meira Kumar in New Delhi Wednesday and submitted his resignation from the lower house of parliament. He represented the Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency.