Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa (second from left) felicitates Srinivas Gowda.
Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa (second from left) felicitates Srinivas Gowda.

Bengaluru: Senior BJP leaders in Karnataka are keen to give Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa an unexpected ‘gift’ on his 77th birthday on February 27 – a letter of appreciation and gratitude accompanied by a ‘retirement letter’; a sort of golden handshake.

Yediyurappa is one of the only exceptions to the BJP rule that anyone who has crossed 75 years should not hold office. But the party command is unable to ask him to walk quietly into the dusk fearing the wrath of the numerically strong Lingayat community of which Yediyurappa is the tallest leader.

But of late, the Chief Minister’s reflexes are showing signs of ageing and this has given rise to an unsigned letter calling for his retirement. Nobody has dared to sign the letter, but sources in the BJP say that senior party leaders with indirect backing from the high command are behind the missive that has gone viral on social media.

Citing his health condition, the letter has called for a change in leadership.

But in order to coverup the charge of dissent, the letter is written by Yediyurappa’s ‘well-wishers’. They have heaped praise on him for having built the party from scratch in the state and cited his huge contributions to the party. At the same time, the ‘well-wishers’ have expressed deep concerns for his age and the need for some well-deserved rest.

“Age is taking a toll on his health. Despite best efforts, his body is not responding to the rigours of his role. He should be given an honourable exit from active politics and be made governor of a state,” the letter said.

But the letter is not without a sting in the end. It also refers to alleged interference of his family members in the administration of the state and has termed one of his sons as the ‘Super CM’.

The missive says an apartment in Bengaluru has become the new power centre, not the Vidhana Soudha where the CM sits. “MLAs, ministers, officials and industrialists are being directed to meet the Super CM by Yediyurappa,” the letter alleged.

This letter came out in the open just a day after a few BJP MLAs and leaders met at former CM Jagadish Shettar’s house. Incidentally, Shettar is also a Lingayat. The late-night meeting is believed to have expressed unhappiness about Yediyurappa failing to induct senior leaders into his cabinet while rewarding almost all the turncoats with plum ministerial berths.

But Shettar later denied that the meeting was called to discuss Yediyurappa or his health. “I am a minister. Several legislators come to meet me every day. On Monday, 4-5 legislators had come for their work. I spoke to them and they left,” Shettar said.

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