Yeddy sets date for party

Our Special Correspondent

Bangalore, Nov. 6: Disgruntled BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa today insisted there was no looking back and he would soon launch a "secular" party, repeating an earlier assertion before beginning a closed-door huddle with supporters who numbered enough to rock the government.

Among those who joined the lunch meeting were nine ministers, around 25 MLAs, seven Lok Sabha MPs and 11 members from the legislative council (the upper House).

Although it's still unclear how many legislators would eventually join the regional outfit the former chief minister has tentatively named Karnataka Janata Party, the exit of just his die-hard supporters would be enough to end the BJP-led government's majority in the Assembly.

The party now has 120 members, including the Speaker, in the 225-member House.

Yeddyurappa had earlier said he would let the government last its full term before elections due in May 2013.

The former chief minister, the BJP's first in the south before he resigned over corruption allegations and now sidelined following unresolved differences with party seniors, confirmed there was no going back on his decision to end an association that goes back over four decades.

"I will be floating my new party on December 10 in (north Karnataka town) Haveri and anyone from any party is welcome to join me," the 69-year-old told a media conference before starting the closed-door lunch meeting with his supporters at his Dollars Colony residence. "I have no role in the BJP anymore," he added.

Yeddyurappa, whose resignation in July 2011 was followed by an unseemly power tussle within the party, said: "Everyone came voluntarily as I am not forcing anyone to leave the party (BJP) to join me."

The state ministers who attended the media conference were close confidante Shobha Karandlaje, Umesh Katti, Murugesh Nirani, Basavaraj Bom-mai, M.P. Renukacharya, B.J. Puttaswamy, Revunaik Belamagi, C.M. Udasi and C.P. Yogeshwar.

The 25-odd legislators also declared their support to the former chief minister.

Yeddyurappa had recently declared that his outfit would be "secular".

It appeared to have worked when Congress leader and former minister Jabbar Khan Honnali became the first prominent minority leader to join him. Yesterday, Yeddyurappa met community elders in the northern city of Hubli.

Sources said Yeddyurappa would soon appoint former minister Dhananjay Kumar as the president of his yet-to-be-launched party.