As expected, the BJP on Saturday decided to replace D V Sadananda Gowda with Jagadish Shettar as Karnataka’s Chief Minister — this comes as the third change in eleven months.
The decision was taken at the BJP core group meeting, held at party president Nitin Gadkari’s residence.
The party, thus, bowed to the wishes of B S Yeddyurappa, who’s been relentlessly demanding a change in guard in the State after he helped install Gowda, as Chief Minister.
Shettar, like Yeddyurappa, is a Lingayat, and the move to have a new chief minister, a year before the State goes to elections, will help the party retain its core Lingayat support base, feel party leaders.
After the core group meeting, BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Gowda will have meetings with Nitin Gadkari, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley upon his arrival in the capital.
“A decision would be taken after that,” said Prasad. Gowda’s resignation is now only a matter of time as the party at the core group meeting also decided to send two representatives — Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley — to facilitate a change of guard in the State. This was confirmed to the Express by Singh.
The two leaders would be present at the BJP Legislature Party meeting, after Gowda’s resignation, to formally elect Shettar as its new leader. As per the decisions, besides Shettar as new CM, K S Eshwarappa and R Ashok may be made deputy chief ministers. Gowda, meanwhile, may be made party unit chief in Karnataka.
Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, who landed in the capital on Saturday evening, said that “he would abide by any decision that the party high command takes”.
While he could not meet party president Nitin Gadkari who was away in Jabalpur, he met L K Advani, at his residence where other senior party leaders, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar, were also present.
“Gowda discussed the situation in Karnataka. After the Chief Minister meets the party president, whatever the party’s core group and the parliamentary board has discussed and decided after consultations with the chief minister, will be announced tomorrow morning,” Jaitley said, after a two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting. Gowda is now slated to meet Gadkari on Sunday and a formal announcement on Shettar and Gowda’s resignation is likely to come on Sunday.
The BJP top brass is now grappling with the finer points of the change-of-guard blueprint. The party hopes to have two deputy chief ministers — primarily to balance the State caste matrix — and K S Eeshwarappa (a Kuruba) and R Ashok ( a Vokkaliga) are the frontrunners for the two positions. Gowda, too, is set to get an honourable exit — he may be made state BJP chief.
Seemingly unperturbed by the decision to remove him, Gowda said he would extend all cooperation to “his good friend Shettar”. “Shettar is a good friend of mine. He is more senior and more experienced. I will always give full cooperation to him and if I want to give any suggestion for the betterment of administration, I will personally visit him and give my suggestions,” he said.