The BJP exposed itself to the caste faultlines, asking D V Sadananda Gowda to quit as Karnataka's chief minister after his uneventful, but scam-free reign of just over 11 months. Newly emerged Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar, backed by former CM B S Yeddyurappa, will take over the state’s reins early this week.
The party bosses may have capped the six-month long dissidence by the lastmile replacement, but they have a lot to explain as the decision seemed to have thrust the caste matrix into Karnataka’s electoral narrative. In the bargain, the party may have jettisoned its hardearned Vokkaliga vote block, much to the delight of
its political rivals.
When sworn in, Shettar will be the third CM in four years in the BJP government, and will have less than a year at the helm.
The task on the party bosses’ hand is to rehabilitate Gowda gracefully. Party chief Nitin Gadkari is learnt to have offered him a Rajya Sabha berth, which Gowda declined. Now, Gowda is keen on the BJP state unit president’s post — a prize catch in an election year as the chief has a big say in the distribution of tickets.
The change of guard was smooth on a cloudy Sunday in Delhi. Gowda held a meeting with Gadkari around 9am and handed in his resignation. As Gowda left for Bangalore by noon, Gadkari announced Shettar’s name for the CM’s post. The BJP has deputed Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley as observers.
The BJP legislators’ meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, where Shettar will be elected leader. After that, Shettar and Gowda will call on the governor. Gowda will submit his resignation and Shettar will stake his claim to succeed him.
Lingayat strongman Jagadish Shettar is expected to be sworn into the CM’s office on July 11 along with a small team of ministers. The legislature meets on July 16.
The change in leadership was on the cards after the party’s satraps in New Delhi failed to win over the rebels. What forced the party’s hand was resignations of nine ministers, including CM-designate Shettar, a fortnight ago.
Party national president Nitin Gadkari played the Lingayat card to explain why the incumbent, D V Sadananda Gowda, was asked to resign.
The next big test will be formation of the ministry — there may be a deputy chief minister’s post, and the names of home minister and Vokkaliga leader R Ashoka and party’s state president K S Eshwarappa, a Kuruba, are doing the rounds. The party is most likely to drop this idea if the post leads to parallel power centres in a single-party government like the BJP’s.