Hubli: Karnataka's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party Sunday showed it functions as two units with former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa keeping open the option of leaving the party and boycotting the campaign for next week's Lok Sabha bypoll from the state.
The rival group headed by Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa, on its part, stayed away from Yeddyurappa's birthday bash organized by his supporters Sunday in this town, about 400 km north of Bangalore.
Yeddyurappa, who has been seeking re-instatement ever since he was forced to quit July 31 last year over corruption charges, seemed bent on splitting the BJP's maiden rule in the state that started in May 2008 into his period and that of his successor Gowda.
'I will tour the length and breadth of Karnataka to explain to the people the progress the state achieved in my three-and-a-half year rule,' he told a public meeting organised here as a show of strength but in the name of his celebrating his 70th birthday, which was on Feb 27.
Earlier Yeddyurappa told reporters 'only time will tell' when asked whether he will be in BJP at the time of next assembly polls due April-May next year.
He also ruled out campaigning for the party candidate in the March 18 bypoll to Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat. The bypoll follows Gowda vacating the seat after he took over from Yeddyurappa Aug 4.
Several ministers including rival-turned-supporter Jagadish Shettar and known loyalists Shobha Karandlaje, Basavaraj Bommai, and Umesh Katti addressed the public meeting and said Yeddyurappa remains the leader of the party in the state.
The former chief minister virtually blamed Gowda for the decision to boycott Udupi-Chikmagalur bypoll campaigning.
'Gowda says that I am facing eight more corruption cases. My campaigning may embarrass him,' Yeddyurappa commented sarcastically.
The former chief minister March 7 won his case in the high court against the July 27 report of the then Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommending his trial on the ground that his kin had taken Rs. 30 crore from a mining company.
Though the high court has set aside the mining bribery case, Yeddyurappa is fighting several other cases of corruption and illegal land deals.