BELAGAVI: While state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa has made it clear that he’s aiming to become chief minister again, a section of his party leadership is waiting for him to move out. The BJP president’s post is up for grabs, and a number of leaders are lobbying hard to stake claim to it.
Caught up with the Lok Sabha elections for the past few months, the BJP top leadership is still undecided on who should replace Yeddyurappa. But Yeddyurappa’s personal fortune hinges on two factors: the election results and the stability of the coalition government. If the Karnataka government survives the shocks of the May 23 poll results, he may have to pack his bags.
A lobby of Vokkaliga and Lingayat leaders could stake claim to the top party post. R Ashoka and C T Ravi from the Vokkaliga community, and Basangouda Patil Yatnal, Umesh Katti and some others from the Lingayat heartland of North Karnataka may be the frontrunners.
Sources said that leaders who have strong links with both the RSS and BJP high command could be considered in the event of Yeddyurappa’s failure to form a government in the state after May 23. And chances of a leader of Yeddyurappa’s choice replacing him arise only when he becomes chief minister, sources said.
Meanwhile, many in the BJP, mostly from the Vokkaliga belt of South Karnataka, are rallying behind Ashoka and Ravi for the top post, which has been held by a Lingayat for some time now. Elevating Vokkaliga leaders in the BJP could help the party counter the JDS leadership, sources said, adding that both Ashoka and Ravi connect well with the RSS leadership.
However, leaders from both communities claim they are not lobbying for the post. In Vijayapura, MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal declared himself the party’s state president after Yeddyurappa quits. “After Yeddyurappa, only I am capable of holding the top post,’’ Yatnal said.
Yatnal’s political opponent and former minister Appu Pattanshetty said he also would accept the post if he got an opportunity. “Such opportunities should be created for all party workers. I will create history if I take over the post,” he added.
To divide the backward class vote share of the Congress, the party could elevate Govind Karjol, who is from a Schedule Caste. A popular leader in North Karnataka, Karjol could emerge as a capable and consensus candidate, a source said. But Karjol claims that he is not an aspirant for the top post.
“So far, the party has not begun the process of replacing Yeddyurappa. To address their concern about social justice, some leaders could have speculated that the post could be given to me,’’ he added.