Not told to resign, says Yeddyurappa, to meet Gadkari Tuesday (Night Lead)

Monday, November 22, 2010

NEW DELHI/BANGALORE - Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who flew in to the capital Monday evening amid speculation that he would be asked to quit over allegations of favouring his kin with prime land, asserted that no one had asked him to quit. He met senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley.

Yeddyurappa, who will stay in the capital for two more days, is likely to meet party chief Nitin Gadkari Tuesday. Gadkari, who is in Nagpur, has been authorized by party senior leaders to take a final decision on Yeddyurappa’s continuance as chief minister.

“No one has asked me to resign. I have come here to meet our party MPs and our all India leaders,” the chief minister told reporters at Karnataka Bhavan, the state’s guesthouse in New Delhi.

The chief minister announced the appointment of a commission of inquiry to probe alleged illegal allotment of residential sites in Bangalore and freeing large tracts of land from government control in various places in the state since Jan 1, 1995.

The panel will be headed by retired Karnataka High Court judge B. Padmaraj and has been given a year’s time to submit its findings.

Late Monday, Yeddyurappa met Jaitley at the residence of the party’s Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore. He later told reporters he had discussed “the current political situation and party affairs”.

“I am satisfied with the discussions. I cannot give details,” Yeddyurappa said. Asked whether his resignation was discussed, Yeddyurappa said: “I do not want to respond to speculations.”

The chief minister also met his party MPS from Karnataka.

Meanwhile, Gadkari told reporters in Nagpur late Monday that he will meet Yeddyurappa in New Delhi Tuesday.

Yeddyurappa’s assertion that he has not been asked to quit came after nearly two days of intense media speculation that BJP leaders had asked him to step down over the land allotment scandal.

Earlier in the day, his loyalists who met BJP leaders in New Delhi had denied reports that Yeddyurappa had been asked to quit by 11 a.m. Monday.

The 11 a.m. time was supposed to have been fixed as parliament, where the BJP has stalled proceedings demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into alleged corruption in allotment of 2G spectrum, was to resume its sitting.

The BJP and other opposition parties claim the 2G spectrum scandal runs into thousands of crores of rupees and the BJP does not want the Congress-led central government to hit back at it over Yeddyurappa’s alleged illegalities.

For the first time since the land allotment scandal came into the open about 10 days ago, Yeddyurappa was smiling as he was surrounded by the print and electronic media at the Karnataka Bhavan.

On Saturday, he was grim faced and refused to even acknowledge the media’s presence when he left the residence of Gadkari after his first meeting with him and other party leaders over the land scandal.

In Bangalore, an official statement on the enquiry panel said it will probe alleged illegal allotment of sites by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and denotification of land by the BDA, Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), Karnataka Housing Board (KHB) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

The panel has nine terms of reference and will hold sittings in Bangalore and other places it deems necessary, the statement said.

It will cover the allotments and denotification during the period of six chief ministers - H.D. Deve Gowda, J.H. Patel, S.M. Krishna, Dharam Singh, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Yeddyurappa.

Gowda and Patel belonged to Janata Dal, Krishna and Singh to the Congress and Kumaraswamy to Janata Dal-Secular.

As Yeddyurappa was fighting to save his chair, heads of three matts (religious institutions) of the Lingayat community, to which he belongs, came out openly in his support.

His removal, they said at a joint press conference, will be seen as an assault on the Lingayat community and the BJP will pay heavily for it.

Vishweshatirtha Swami of Pejavar Math in Udupi in coastal Karnataka told Kannada TV channels that he was against taking any action against Yeddyurappa without guilt being proved.

Vishweshatirtha is a Brahmin and is known to be close to several BJP central leaders and was an active advisor to the party during the height of its agitation for a temple dedicated to Lord Ram in Ayodhya.

Late Monday, a delegation of state Congress party leaders met Karnataka Governor H. R. Bhardwaj and urged him to dismiss the Yeddyurappa ministry in view of the allegations against it.

“The Yeddyurappa ministry has not only failed to protect the state’s resources, it is in fact looting it,” leader of the opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah of Congress told reporters after the meeting.

“This is a clear case of criminal misconduct and we have urged the Governor to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution and dismiss the government,” he said.

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