BANGALORE: The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr B S Yeddyurappa, indicted by the Lokayukta in illegal mining scam, resigned on Sunday ending three days of defiance and favoured sitting Lok Sabha MP, Mr D V Sadananda Gowda as his successor.
After giving anxious moments to party central leadership, which had asked him to step down immediately, 68-year-old Mr Yedyurappa submitted his resignation to the Governor, Mr H R Bhardwaj amid high drama and claimed he was accused "unfairly" on illegal mining issue.
Mr Yeddyurappa walked the two-km-long distance from his Race Course residence to Raj Bhavan along with over 60 MLAs and ministers loyal to him to submit his one-line resignation letter to the Governor who immediately accepted it.
"We have proposed the name of D V Sadananda Gowda as chief ministerial candidate," Mr Yeddyurappa told reporters outside Raj Bhavan, coming out publicly on his choice of successor over which he had locked horns with the party top brass.
Mr Gowda (58) belongs to the dominant Vokkaliga community and fully backed by Mr Yeddyurappa who wants to make sure that his hold over the party and the government remains strong.
With Parliament session beginning on Monday where the BJP is set to put UPA in the dock on the corruption issue, Mr Yeddyurappa’s resignation came as big relief to the party which was left red faced after he dragged his feet and set preconditions and repeatedly displayed his clout with MLAs.
"I believed from the beginning that no sacrifice is above the party. Therefore, bowing to the directive of the party seniors, I have stepped down from the Chief Minister’s post without any hesitation," Mr Yeddyurappa, who described himself as the "disciplined soldier" of the party, said.
Shortly after submitting his resignation, Mr Yeddyurappa went into a huddle with senior party leader, Mr Arun Jaitley to decide on the successor ahead of a legislature party meeting to elect a new leader.
"Despite my sincere attempts to preserve the natural resources of the state, I have been accused unfairly. I leave this to the judgement of the enlightened people of the state," said Mr Yeddyurappa as his 38-month stint in office ended after being nailed by the Lokayukta, Mr Justice Santosh Hegde who recommended his prosecution under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Mr Yeddyurappa, who reportedly insisted on being made the state party unit president before he could make way for his successor, said he would abide by whatever decision his party high command takes on his political future.
On day three of the political upheaval caused by the Lokayukta findings, the drama unfolded with Mr Yeddyurappa faxing his resignation letter to the party president, Mr Nitin Gadkari, even after which he kept the party leaders in suspense on his exit.
Mr Yeddyurappa, known for his skills as a survivor and credited with bringing the first ever BJP rule in the South, said he was "quitting happily and with satisfaction".
Vowing to work for strengthening the party in the state, Mr Yeddyurappa said the "wish of the people is that BJP should continue to be in power for the next 15-20 years" and added he would work towards realising the aim that the party win 150 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the next elections.
"What’s the crime I committed? (that I had to resign). Iron ore wealth should not be looted," said Mr Yeddyurappa.
As the central leaders made frantic efforts to break the logjam, Mr Yeddyurappa insisted on Udupi-Chikmagalur MP Mr D V Sadananda Gowda succeeding him. But the stand-off persisted as speculation was rife that his bete noire national general secretary, Mr H N Ananth Kumar’s name was also being considered.
Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Jaitley continued consultations with party top leaders, including the state unit president, Mr K S Eswarappa, Mr Ananth Kumar and legislators, to find a successor to Mr Yeddyurappa and ensure a smooth leadership change.
Hours before he submitted his resignation, an emotional Mr Yeddyurappa said he is leaving the office "happily" without being hurt and saw it as an opportunity to work "freely" to strengthen the party.
His voice choking, Mr Yeddyurappa said at a function that as Chief Minister he felt like his hands and legs had been tied and he had to discharge his duties from Vidhan Soudha, the state secretariat, within "limitations".
The BJP parliamentary board at its meeting on July 28 asked Mr Yeddyurappa to resign and deputed Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Jaitely to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
Mr Yeddyurappa first said he would resign on July 31 when the inauspicious ‘Aashada Masa’ would end but in the meantime mobilised MLAs to remain in power, a move which put the top BJP leadership in a quandary.
Sources in the party said the BJP has accepted Mr Yeddyurappa’s condition that his nominee be named as his successor, but not his demand for appointing him as president of the state unit.