Updated: July 27, 2021 6:31:14 pm
A six-time BJP MLA from a Scheduled Caste community, who has been described as “a loyal worker” of the party and the RSS from the coastal Karnataka region, has emerged as the dark horse to be the new Chief Minister of the state after the resignation of B S Yediyurappa on Monday, sources told The Indian Express.
Karnataka Fisheries Minister S Angara, a low-profile leader who never became a minister until recently despite being elected on six occasions from the reserved Sullia constituency in the RSS stronghold of Dakshina Kannada, has emerged in the ranks of frontrunners for the post, sources said.
If Angara gets the nod, he is likely to become the first Dalit Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Another frontrunner from the Dalit community is Deputy CM from the Yediyurappa cabinet Govind Karjol, who is a close associate of the former chief minister and one of his picks to be CM.
On Tuesday evening, a few senior MLAs were seen gathering around Karjol when he arrived at the Kumara Krupa guest house in Bengaluru to meet BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh and central observers Dharmendra Pradhan and Kishan Reddy.
Other frontrunners in the race are central BJP leader B L Santhosh, a Brahmin; home minister Basavaraj Bommai, a Lingayat and close associate of Yediyurappa; Union minister Pralhad Joshi, a Brahmin; and Arvind Bellad, an MLA with no administrative experience but who hails from the numerically large Panchamshali Lingayat group.
The Karnataka BJP legislature party has called a meeting of legislators at 7 pm on Tuesday at a hotel in Bengaluru to pick the new leader, with Arun Singh, Pradhan and Reddy supervising the selection.
The Delhi trio are likely to visit the residence of Yediyurappa to convince him to propose the name of the new leader and CM candidate at the meeting. A second proposal may come from another senior leader in the party. The BJP is looking at completing the formalities of the appointment by Thursday.
The BJP has, in recent days, leaned towards picking unconventional candidates for key positions from Karnataka — including the Rajya Sabha and the Union Cabinet. Little-known party workers Ashok Gasti and Eranna Kadadi were picked for the Rajya Sabha in 2019 at the cost of heavyweights. Earlier this year, Dalit MP A Narayanaswamy was picked for the Union Cabinet.
Yediyurappa’s son B Y Raghavendra, an MP, said the party would pick a surprise candidate to be Chief Minister. The BJP MLA and former Union Minister Basavaraj Patil Yatnal said last week that the candidate would be an “honest, pro-Hindu” leader capable of bringing the BJP back to power.
The Karnataka unit of the BJP said in an official statement that the party whip in the legislative council Capt Ganesh Karnik has called a meeting of legislators of the BJP on Tuesday at 7 pm.
With Yediyurappa stepping down, a BJP parliamentary board meeting held in New Delhi deliberated initially on a new CM candidate.
The BJP parliamentary board, which is the highest decision-making body in the party, will pick a candidate from a shortlist of over half-a-dozen probables and communicate the choice to the BJP legislators in Karnataka through emissaries.
Yediyurappa is likely to be among the 119 BJP MLAs at the legislature party meeting that will pick a new leader.
The legislature party meeting will be the penultimate step before a new chief minister is appointed. The Governor can invite the BJP legislature party leader to come forward and take oath as the new Chief Minister. Or, the newly elected leader will communicate to the Governor his election as leader of the BJP in the state legislature and seek to take oath.
The schedule of the BJP picking a candidate to be the new CM and the candidate taking oath as CM is expected to be completed by Thursday.
In the event of the BJP picking a person who is not a member of the Karnataka legislature, the Constitution mandates that the candidate should become a member of the legislature within six months of taking office.
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