Though BS Yediyurappa kept alive the suspense surrounding his exit until his tearful announcement yesterday, he had resigned as Karnataka Chief Minister weeks back, sources have said.
Mr Yediyurappa resigned on July 10, according to sources. A senior leader close to him delivered the resignation letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi the same day.
Six days later, when Mr Yediyurappa took a chartered flight to Delhi to meet with PM Modi and others in the BJP leadership, there was a strong buzz that he was about to resign.
Reports said in his meeting with the PM, he had offered to quit citing his poor health. But Mr Yediyurappa hedged and shut down all talk of his exit, telling reporters: “Not at all, not at all, not at all. There is no truth in it.”
But sources say at that meeting, Mr Yediyurappa, 78, told the Prime Minister he wanted some more time to step down. He reportedly said he wanted to unfurl the national flag on Independence Day August 15 as his last act as Chief Minister. That would mean nearly another month’s grace period.
He met with BJP chief JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah too. After each meeting, he said he had been told that the party has immense faith in him and wanted him to strengthen the party in Karnataka.
After that day, Mr Yediyurappa kept saying he had heard nothing from his party and that he would resign the moment he was asked to.
Sources say it appeared to be an attempt to project uncertainty over his exit and doubts in the party over whether to let him go. The apparent fluidity also helped build the perception that the BJP was finding it hard to find a replacement for the four-term Chief Minister and powerful Lingayat leader.
In all this speculation, Mr Yediyurappa kept a busy schedule and met with religious heads, including Lingayat seers, in an apparent message to his party leadership in Delhi on the strong support he enjoys.
The Lingayats are a powerful community with a huge electoral impact in Karnataka, a fact that fortified Mr Yediyurappa for long from dissenters and even from corruption allegations.
Finally, Mr Yediyurappa could stall no more as his government’s two-year anniversary arrived. He told reporters on Sunday evening that he had heard “nothing till now” from the BJP but hinted heavily that come Monday, he may not remain in the post.
“Nothing has come till now… In the morning there is a programme to mark two years of government. I will speak about the achievements in those two years. After that, you will know the progress,” he said. “I have decided that I will work till the very last minute. I already said two months ago that I was ready to resign whenever I was asked to. I will say it again – until now I have got no message from the centre. As soon as it comes, if they ask me to continue I will. If not, I will resign and work for that party,” he added.