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"I will have to abide by high command's decision": CM Yediyurappa hints at exit
Bengaluru, Jul 20 (PTI) Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is said to have told a delegation of pontiffs from various communities on Tuesday that he will have to abide by the decision of the BJP high command, giving some credence to speculation that a change of leadership is on the cards.

However, these pontiffs have warned of a political fallout for the BJP in Karnataka if Yediyurappa is dislodged as the Chief Minister.

"Yediyurappa only said that he is not in position to speak anything on the issue and will have to abide by the decision of the high command.

He did not say anything else," Balehosur mutt's Dingaleshwar Swamy, who led the delegation of pontiffs, said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, he said "when we questioned Yediyurappa what really has happened, he said he will not comment on that and the high command's decision is final. He did not say anything else."

"The unanimous opinion of the pontiffs is- don't replace Yediyurappa. If it is done, you (BJP) will face bad consequences in the days to come.

What is the need for a change? We are not against nurturing new leaders," the swamiji added.

Over two dozen pontiffs from different parts of the state, clad in saffron attire, met Yediyurappa to express their support amid talks in some quarters of his exit in the near future.

As many as 300-400 pontiffs are expected to gather in Bengaluru in a couple of days to discuss the "future course of action", sources said.

Noting that their demand not to remove Yediyurappa is not because he is a Lingayat, the swamiji said it was because he is a good leader, has strived hard for the state and should be allowed to administer with cooperation from everyone.

The seer said it was because of Yediyurappa and the efforts of his associates that the BJP has been able to come to power in Karnataka.

He said there is a feeling of pain among the pontiffs and people of the state that Yediyurappa, who has built BJP in Karnataka from the grass-roots level and brought it to power, was not allowed to run the administration for a complete term in the past and the same thing is getting repeated once again.

"If in any situation Yediyurappa is replaced, the BJP will probably get decimated in Karnataka. This is not only our opinion, but of a majority of people of the state," he added.

Asking the BJP high command to allow Yediyurappa to complete the term, Dingaleshwar Swamy pointed out that it was the 78 year-old leader who formed the government by "bringing in" 17 MLAs from other parties and managed the floods and COVID situations effectively.

Yediyurappa, who will complete two years in office on July 26, visited Delhi last week, meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President J P Nadda.

The trip raised questions in some quarters on whether the party was now working out a succession plan.

On his return from the national capital, Yediyurappa rubbished talk that he is on way out and asserted that the central leadership has asked him to continue in the post.

However, speculation about his replacement refuses to die down as Yediyurappa has convened the BJP legislature party meeting on July 26, on the occasion of completion of two years in office.

Amid heightened buzz within a section of the ruling BJP circles that the exit of Yediyurappa is on the cards, the community factor also seems to have come to the fore, with prominent Veerashaiva-Lingayat political leaders and seers from the community throwing their weight behind him.

Congress leaders Shamanur Shivashankarappa and M B Patil, as also Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, head of the Chitradurga based Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Mutt, Sri Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami of Rambhapuri Peetha of Balehonnur and Srisaila Jagadguru Channa Siddharama Panditaradhya,have warned BJP of a backlash if Yediyurappa is replaced.

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