Karnataka CM's exit likely? BJP chief's 'leaked' audio hints change
A "leaked" audio clip purportedly of Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nalin Kumar Kateel has deepened the political crisis for the BJP in the state by hinting at the exit of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa soon. The development came a day after Yediyurappa dismissed rumors of his resignation, reiterating that there is no threat to his chair. However, Kateel called the tape fake.
In the alleged audiotape, Kateel is purportedly heard telling an unidentified confidant that Yediyurappa would soon be out and the new CM would come from Delhi, CNN-News18 reported. "There is going to be a definite change in leadership, a completely new team will be in place," Kateel reportedly said, "There are no local candidates in the running. It is being decided in Delhi."
As soon as the alleged tape went viral, Kateel denied any association with the tape and called it fake. The Karnataka BJP chief said in an official statement, "There is an effort to damage the party by releasing an audio with a voice that bears resemblance to mine. A probe is needed to find the truth behind this recording."
The "leak" has divided the beleaguered BJP further in the state, pitting one against another. Despite Nalin Kumar Kateel's claims, many in the Yediyurappa camp are still skeptical about the tape and believe that it cannot be fake, CNN-News18 reported. The Yediyurappa camp also suspects that BJP National General Secretaries BL Santosh and CT Ravi are against him and want a change of leadership.
Two days ago, Yediyurappa had flown to Delhi and met the BJP's top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also met Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and BJP President JP Nadda. After returning from Delhi, he told reporters, "The central leaders have asked me to continue as Chief Minister and strengthen the party. There is no question of leadership change."
With the growing number of dissidents against Yediyurappa, speculation is rife that he would be eased out soon after his government completes two years in office on July 26. However, Yediyurappa's ouster will not be a cakewalk for the BJP leadership as he represents the politically and economically powerful Lingayat caste. Many believe the "leaked" video will only help him to consolidate his position.