With former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa out of contention for a position in the Narendra Modi cabinet, his close aide and Udupi Chikamagalur MP Shobha Karandlaje has emerged a likely candidate to be in the ministry.
The party is verifying the credentials of Karandlaje, who was a minister in the BJP governments in Karnataka between 2008 and 2013. Karandlaje, the only woman candidate to have won from the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, is likely to be given a minister of state portfolio.
The move to induct Karandlaje into the Union ministry is being seen as an effort to address a wide cross-section of society in the state including women, the Vokkaliga community to which Karandlaje belongs, the coastal districts where she hails from apart from assuaging Yeddyurappa supporters.
BJP sources said the party is also not likely to change its state president Prahlad Joshi, who has two years left in his term, and despite Yeddyurappa suggesting in an open letter to Narendra Modi on Thursday that he “would voluntarily and wholeheartedly work towards the strengthening of the party in Karnataka”.
The BJP has suggested that Yeddyurappa would have to come clean from his corruption cases before he could be considered for a top position in the government or the state BJP unit. Yeddyurappa is currently being prosecuted by the CBI for criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption in a case relating to receipt of Rs 40 crore in bribes for granting iron ore mining favours in 2010 when Yeddyurappa was chief minister.
Sources said the BJP is of the view that there is no immediate need to play the social justice card in Karnataka since no significant elections are due in the state in the immediate future. The BJP would initially only induct a couple of ministers from Karnataka and later consider the induction of more in a second or third installment, sources said.
Initially, as many as 12 BJP leaders from Karnataka, including Rajya Sabha members, were known to be vying for positions in the Modi cabinet. Rajya Sabha members including former minister Venkaiah Naidu and educationist Prabhakar Kore, along with a string of multiple-term winners like general secretary Ananth Kumar, state president Prahlad Joshi, former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Ananth Kumar Hegde, Ramesh Jigajinagi, G M Siddeshwar were among the hopefuls along with first time parliamentarians B S Yeddyurappa and Shobha Karandlaje.
Yeddyurappa dropped himself from contention after Modi suggested that the BJP must meet people’s expectations of a clean, untainted government first up. Prahlad Joshi had, following a meeting with Modi last week, stated that the state unit had recommended the names of Ananth Kumar, Yeddyurappa, D V Sadananda Gowda and Ramesh Jigajinagi.