New Delhi: On expected lines, BJP`s Parliamentary Board - the party`s highest decision making body- on Thursday asked Karnataka’s corruption-tainted Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to step down immediately paving for another leader to take over the top job in the southern state.
Confirming the development, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters, “Today morning the BJP’s parliamentary board met at party chief Nitin Gadkari’s residence here. The meeting was attended by top leaders including LK Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh, where the political fallout of the Lokayukta report indicting Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa was discussed.”
“During the meeting, the parliamentary board unanimously decided that there has to be a change in leadership of the BJP Legislature Party in Karnataka. Accordingly, it also advised Yeddyurappa to tender his resignation to the central leadership immediately,” Prasad said.
“Tomorrow Arun Jaitley and former party president Rajnath Singh will go to Karnataka as central observers to elect a new leader there,” he added.
The development comes a day after Karnataka’s Lokayukta N Santosh Hedge indicted him, three of his cabinet colleagues including mining barons-turned-politicians for their alleged role in the illegal mining business and recommended strict action against all those guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Minutes after Hegde submitted his explosive report yesterday, a worried BJP leadership had summoned Yeddyruppa, its first chief minister in South to Delhi, amid rising concerns that he should be removed.
Justice Hegde’s report has come as a major embarrassment for BJP, which has already taken a high moral ground on corruption and has been targeting the Congress-UPA government at the centre.
In the wake of Yeddyurappa`s indictment by Lokayukta Hegde, BSY’s continuance had become untenable. Today’s decision by BJP’s Parliamentary Board appears to save the party’s reputation as a corruption-free party.
Shortly after his arrival in the national capital on Wednesday evening with his ministers and close confidants, Yeddyurappa appeared defiant and said he has not been asked to resign.
In the meeting with party president Nitin Gadkari and senior central party leaders Rajnath Singh, M Venkaiah Naidu and Dharmendra Pradhan, the political fallout of the Lokayukta report was discussed with Yeddyurappa.
The Chief Minister tried to convince the central leadership that the charges made in the report were not new and a court case was already pending in the matter.
However, the central leadership conveyed to him that his continuance would weaken BJP`s fight against corruption, especially when the Monsoon Session of Parliament begins next week.
Importantly, Yeddyurappa arrived in Bangalore by an early morning flight today.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Yeddyurappa said, “We discussed all issues till 2 am with the top leaders. I wil be going back to Delhi after August 31 for further talks.”
The beleaguered Chief Minister is reported to be holding a meeting of the BJP’s state unit leaders at his Race Course residence.
Interestingly, the BJP central leadership, as per sources, has directed the state unit members not to attend the meeting convened by Yeddyurappa.
Explosive Mining Report
Karnataka Lokayukta Wednesday claimed that Yeddyurappa received kickbacks for favouring mining barons.
“The illegal mining business has caused a loss of Rs 16,085 crores to the state’s exchequer between 2006 and 2010,” Hegde said addressing a press conference after submitting a huge 25,228-page long explosive report on illegal mining to the state’s Chief Secretary SV Ranganath.
“Worst offences have been recorded in Karnataka’s Bellary district. Illegal mining business runs unabated in Tumkur, Chitradurga and other districts,” he said.
In damning evidence against the Chief Minister, Justice Hegde claimed that Yeddyurappa and his family have been beneficiaries of the largesse of mining companies. “A mining company named the South West Mining Company, owned by Jindals, had donated Rs 10 crore to a trust owned by Chief Minister`s family members. The company also purchased one acre of land for Rs 20 crore from the trust far above the guidance value. This makes for an offence under Prevention of Corruption Act,” the Lokayukta said.
"This has led to the incontrovertible conclusion on my part that these payments were made for reasons other than genuine", Hegde asserted.
The report further alleges that an educational trust run by the Chief Minister`s family allegedly received large sums of money in donations from mining companies.
Besides Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, Hegde’s report indicts former chief minister Kumaraswamy, in addition to the influential Bellary brothers G Janardhan Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy.
The names of Housing Minister V Somanna and Health Minister B Sriramulu also figure in the final report. JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy and Congress MP Anil Lad are also named in the report.
Yeddyurappa has now earned a dubious reputation of being the first ever Chief Minister in the state to be indicted by Lokayukta under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.