Their rationale for the same is to consolidate the strong Lingayat vote bank, in view of the upcoming Assembly elections.
Sources told Express that Shettar, who failed to become the CM after Yeddyurappa resigned in connection the illegal mining scam, is being “sidelined” by Gowda and state BJP president K S Eshwarappa. He was neither being invited to core committee meetings nor was involved in important decision making meets.
Observing this trend, Yeddyurappa, who had once tried to curtail Shettar’s growth, reportedly called him and brokered peace. Yeddyurappa told his supporters that he would not disturb Shettar till next Assembly elections. The question of who should lead the party in the next Assembly elections would be decided then, added the sources.
Sources claimed that pressure from the Lingayat pontiffs was increasing after their community was losing clout over the state affairs ever since Yeddyurappa’s resignation. Their next option is Shettar as he enjoys clout both in south and north Karnataka. Party bosses are also convinced that the Vokkaliga and Kuruba voters will back the JD(S) and Congress respectively.
“The high command has been apprised that BJP cannot return to power if it fails to make a popular Lingayat leader as the CM for the next 8-10 months,” sources detailed.
‘Party aware that DVS no mass leader’
Sources said that even the party high command is aware that Sadananda Gowda is not a mass leader when compared with Yeddyurappa. Besides, Gowda could not ensure the party’s victory in the recently held by-elections to Udupi-Chikmagalur LS constituency, which he vacated to become CM.
Under these circumstances continuing Gowda as the CM may prove costly for the party. The recent elections to the Legislative Council from the Graduates and Teachers Constituencies revealed that the BJP has to rely on Lingayats for its sustenance.
The sentiment was echoed by even non-Lingayat legislators. “We are confident that the party will make Shettar the CM if it wants to retain power in Karnataka,” they said, adding that they have been assured of an early leadership change.