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Posted on Nov 30, 11:08PM | IANS
Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Friday quit the BJP as well as the assembly to launch a regional outfit, a move that is likely to severely hit the BJP's prospects of retaining power in the state polls due May next.
Yeddyurappa's move, however, will not immediately affect the survival of the government headed by Jagadish Shettar as the former chief minister has asked ministers and legislators supporting him not to leave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the present.
The 69-year-old leader, credited with bringing the BJP to power for the first time in Karnataka and south India in 2008, announced at a public meeting at Freedom Park in the city centre that he has faxed his letter of resignation from the BJP's primary membership to party president Nitin Gadkari.
Later he drove in an open vehicle to the state secretariat, about a km away, and submitted to assembly Speaker K.G. Bopaiah his resignation from the Shikaripura assembly constituency. Shikaripura is in Yeddyurappa's home district of Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore.
Bopaiah has accepted the resignation, his office said.
Soon after quitting the BJP and the assembly, Yeddyurappa announced that he has joined Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) and will take over as its president at its formal launch on Dec 9 at Haveri, about 400 km north of Bangalore.
The KJP was registered with the Election Commission of India by social activist Padmanabha Prasanna Kumar of Davangere in central Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa claimed that national parties have no future in Karnataka and the KJP will contest all the 224 elected seats of the 225-member assembly that includes one nominated member.
However, the state BJP leadership remained unfazed.
Shettar, the BJP's third chief minister in its over four years of maiden rule that began in May 2008, described Yeddyurappa's decision to quit the patrty as "unfortunate" but wished him "luck".
State BJP chief and one of the two deputy chief ministers K.S. Eshwarappa, who also hails from Shimoga, told reporters in that town that Yeddyurappa's exit from the BJP will not have any impact on the party.
"The KJP will not succeed," he asserted.
Another Deputy Chief Minister, R. Ashoka also said the BJP will not suffer in any way. He told reporters in Belgaum, about 400 km north of Bangalore, that BJP is built by workers and not an individual.
Yeddyurappa ended his 40-year-old association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), mentor of the BJP and its predecessor Jan Sangh, on a bitter note slamming Gadkari and a section of state BJP leadership for "conspiracy" to get rid of him from the party.
"It is the saddest day of my life as I have been compelled to leave the BJP with which I was associated for about 40 years and brought it to power in the state in 2008," an emotional Yeddyurappa told a news conference after handing over the resignation letter to Bopaiah.
Ahead of the public meeting, he prayed at a temple and shed tears.
Though the party had "given everything to me", he said he was leaving it because "some in the party don't want me to continue in the party. Hence, I am resigning from the primary membership".
The BJP has 119 members in the 225-seat assembly. Yeddyurappa and his supporters claim that over 40 of these legislators, including several ministers, were ready to join the new party.
Yeddyurappa resigned July 31, 2011, as the chief minister after he was indicted by then Lokayukta (ombudsman) Justice N. Santosh Hegde in the multi-crore mining scam during his over three-year tenure.