Snapping his 40-year-old links with the BJP, mercurial leader BS Yeddyurappa, seen as the party's face in Karnataka before he was removed as chief minister, has embarked on an uncertain path that has left him as well as the party he helped build at the crossroads.
A hardboiled politician from the RSS stable, Yeddyurappa, a prominent Lingayat strongman, rose through the ranks step by step to become chief minister in 2008 that also marked installation of the first ever BJP government in the South.
For the 70-year-old temperamental leader, it was a bitter exit from BJP, in whose earlier avatar as Jan Sangh, he began his political career as Shikaripura Taluk president in 1972. Yeddyurappa has accused the BJP leadership of reneging on its promises to reinstate him as CM once he was cleared of charges.
His political acumen, down to earth approach, leadership qualities and periodic game of brinkmanship saw him rise to the post of Chief Minister in 2008.
These traits will be put to the test when he floats his regional outfit — Karnataka Janata Paksha — on December 9 in a state never hospitable to regional parties.
Yeddyurappa's manipulative political skills manifested dramatically when he joined hands with JDS in 2006 and brought down its coalition government with Congress.
With BJP's support, Kumarasamy became chief minister, but when he reneged on the power-sharing deal, the JDS-BJP government collapsed, earning sympathy for Yeddyurappa that helped him earn the mantle of chief ministership in the 2008 elections.
Yeddyurappa's term as chief minister was turbulent as he fought internal revolt,including the one by the powerful Reddy brothers, the mining barons from Bellary district, who nearly brought down his government.
To his credit, he stabilised the wobbly BJP government, which was just above the majority mark in the assembly by launching 'Operation Lotus' to wean away opposition MLAs who quit their membership and sought re-election on a BJP ticket.
Yeddyurappa's journey downhill began when the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicted him, a development that made the central leadership force him to quit as chief minister.
Not known to give up without a fight, Yeddyurappa saw to it that his handpicked man — DV Sadananda Gowda — succeeded him, as he vowed to stage a comeback in six months as chief minister.
However as the two fell out, he engineered the exit of Gowda to favour Jagadish Shettar, who like him also hails from the numerically dominant Lingayat community.
Troubles were unending for Yeddyurappa as he faced case after case on corruption that opened another battlefront, apart from having to face detractors from his own party.
Ever keen to project a pro-farmer image, Yeddyurappa launched many a scheme for them during his stint which were eclipsed by corruption charges and his inability to take others along with him.
Baptised into politics as a RSS worker, Yeddyurappa spent some time in jail during the Emergency.
From a humble beginning in RSS, Yeddyurappa rose to be Secretary of the Janata Party in 1977 and launched a series of agitations for the welfare of bonded labourers and to get land rights to farmers.
Yeddyurappa entered the legislative assembly for the first time in 1983 and was elected for another four terms from Shikaripura constituency.
He was Karnataka unit BJP president and opposition leader for at least two terms.
With his efforts at staging a comeback as chief minister or at least to be state unit president coming to nought, he finally decided to distance himself from BJP a few months ago and float his own party.