Bangalore: Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Friday quit the BJP and the assembly to launch his own party, denting the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prospects in elections due next year.
The 69-year-old, credited with bringing the BJP to power for the first time in Karnataka and south India in 2008, will formally launch the Karnataka Janata Party Dec 9 at Haveri, some 400 km north of Bangalore.
Accusing a section of the party leadership of conspiring to “drive him out of the party for which I gave 40 years of my life”, Yeddyurappa announced at a public meeting at Freedom Park in the city centre that he had sent his resignation from the BJP to party president Nitin Gadkari.
Later, he drove in an open vehicle along with hundreds of supporters to the state secretariat about a kilometre away and gave his resignation from the assembly as well to speaker K.G. Bopaiah.
He told Bopaiah that he was resigning from the assembly on his own and urged him to accept it immediately.
Yeddyurappa represented the Shikaripura constituency in his home district Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore.
Yeddyurappa, who began his political journey with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said his new party would contest all 224 assembly seats next year.
The assembly is 225-strong, with one nominated member.
Yeddyurappa is peeved that the BJP leadership did not keep its promise to make him the state BJP chief soon after he was forced to give up the chief minister’s post in July last year over mining bribery charges.
He said he was leaving the BJP with a “heavy heart” as “I have given my 40 years of life to build it”.
Ahead of the public meeting he prayed at a temple and turned emotional and shed tears.
“I have sacrificed my life to build the party,” he told reporters.
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”.
Yeddyurappa alleged that he was “put in the dock” by “some people in the BJP” though he was not guilty.
He said he had asked BJP ministers and legislators supporting him not to quit the party now as “I want the Jagadish Shettar government to complete the term” which ends May next.
The BJP has 119 members in the 225-seat assembly. Its term ends in May next.
Yeddyurappa and his supporters claim that over 40 of these legislators, including several ministers, were ready to join the new party.
But Shettar, the BJP’s third chief minister in over four years of rule in Karnataka, and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa claim that only a handful of legislators would join the new outfit.