New Delhi/Bangalore, Oct 31 (IANS) Caught in a raging controversy over his business dealings, BJP president Nitin Gadkari Tuesday skipped meeting Karnataka party leaders as former chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa remained firm on quitting the party ahead of next year's assembly polls.
Chief minister Jagadish Shettar accompanied by two deputy chief ministers and several ministers flew to New Delhi early Tuesday to meet Gadkari and other party leaders in one more attempt to placate Yeddyurappa, sulking, among other things, at being denied state party presidentship.
As Shettar and the team reached the national capital, the BJP said in a statement that "The BJP president has authorised Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition, Rajya Sabha; and Dharmendra Pradhan, party general secretary, to meet leaders of Karnataka and review the political situation in the state on his behalf, as he is busy in consultation with legal experts in Nagpur and Mumbai."
Shettar and his team met Rajnath Singh and Pradhan and were to meet Jaitley late Tuesday.
Singh told reporters in New Delhi that "consultations" were on but said he would not accept there was "a crisis" in Karnataka.
Shettar and his team's Delhi meetings came hours after Yeddyurappa asserted in Bangalore that such efforts "not even a penny's worth" and he would launch the new regional party Dec 10 as announced earlier.
The state assembly polls are due next May.
As the former chief minister performed 'poojas' at his home in preparation for opening his proposed party's office in Bangalore, over a dozen BJP parliament members met in the Karnataka capital to chalk out plans to pressure the party central leadership to retain him in the organisation.
BJP Lok Sabha member from Bangalore North constituency D. B. Chandre Gowda told reporters later that the group had apprised the party central leadership of their view on the need to retain Yeddyurappa in the party.
Shettar is accompanied by state party president and deputy chief minister K. S. Eshwarappa, another deputy chief minister R. Ashoka and several ministers including Basavaraj Bommai (water resources) and Vishwanath Hegde Kageri (education).
Gadkari's decision to task Jaitley to lead the efforts to resolve the Karnataka impasse followed his skipping the poll campaign in Himachal Pradesh, apparently as he is under increasing pressure over allegations of massive irregularities in running his companies.
The BJP president did not go to poll-bound Himachal Pradesh for a second round of campaigning. Sources close to Gadkari said that the visit had been cancelled to work out legal strategies against a vilification campaign by a section of the media.
Gadkari is facing allegations of dubious funding in companies controlled
Gadkari has threatened to file civil and criminal cases against some media houses for "defaming" him and alleged that they were playing into the hands of the Congress.
BJP sources said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was in a wait and watch mode over allegations concerning Gadkari and there were doubts about his getting a second term as BJP president.
Income tax authorities are conducting inquiries at the premises of firms which allegedly invested in the companies controlled by Gadkari.