BENGALURU: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said he was waiting for a call from the Central leadership on whether he is to continue as Chief Minister or not, post July 26. Even as the timer on that is set, the party, as well as Yediyurappa himself, is said to be actively looking at who could emerge as probable successors.
By bullishly showcasing the support pouring in for him from Lingayat leaders and religious seers over the past two days, Yediyurappa is hoping to have a louder say in picking the next chief minister in case of his exit. Sources suggest that Yediyurappa has been pitching for Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, while central leaders are looking at Pralhad Joshi, Murugesh Nirani or CT Ravi as probable faces.
Bommai, it is said, is emerging as a possible consensus candidate given his caste, education, administrative capacities and proximity to Yediyurappa, central leaders of the party as well as the RSS. While BL Santhosh, the party’s National General Secretary (Organisation), can keep dissidence at bay, his rivalry with Yediyurappa as well as the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, are roadblocks.
Pralhad Joshi can keep the flock together, but his presence in Parliament is important to the BJP. Of the six ministers from Karnataka in the Union council, only two -- Joshi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman -- are Cabinet ministers. Sitharaman is a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, making Joshi the only Lok Sabha member to hold a cabinet berth from Karnataka.
His caste identity as Brahmin is also a concern, given the demand by Lingayat seers that Yediyurappa’s successor should be from their community.Meanwhile, Nirani has close ties with the central leadership and is emerging as top contender among those shortlisted by the BJP’s central leadership.
Meanwhile, National General Secretary CT Ravi -- a Vokkaliga, Hindutva hardliner -- may fit the bill perfectly if the party is able to balance caste equations with more deputy chief ministers from other communities. Sunil Kumar and Arvind Bellad have not been ministers earlier, but look at a prospective Cabinet berth during a rejig that is expected to accompany the change of guard, when it is decided upon.
While names of many are doing the rounds, one cannot ignore the BJP central leadership’s habit of springing surprises -- whether it is the candidate or the formula they adopt.