July 28, 2011 1:11:18 pm
After the mining scam claimed the scalp of Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa,the question on everyone’s lips is whether the BJP high command will completely ignore Yeddyurappa’s recommendations on his successor in the Lingayat-heavy state Assembly.
The task to choose a leader is tough for central leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh who will be in Bangalore tomorrow to start the selection process.
Among the front-runners is Ananth Kumar — a Brahmin close to top boss L K Advani — who has long nurtured the dream to take up the post. Kumar is credited with building the party in the state along with Yeddyurappa. With the backing of the RSS,it is understood Kumar has already asked another possible candidate Jagadish Shettar to step aside for him.
If the BJP is looking for a clean image,then it cannot ignore Kumar’s links to the Hudco scam and also with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. It is no secret that Yeddyurappa does not like Kumar either.
Shettar,on the other hand,belongs to the Lingayat community,like the former chief minister. He has a clean image and the support of MLAs. The question remains whether Yeddyurappa would want to further weaken his position in the community by nominating a Lingayat.
What is not looking rosy for Shettar is his close ties with the mining scam-tainted Reddy brothers.
The RSS’s choice could be Education Minister Dr V S Acharya. He is clean,much respected but considered by some as a political lightweight.
The RSS could also plump for Law Minister Suresh Kumar. He is a Brahmin,but like Acharya,politically naive.
State BJP president K S Eshwarappa is a strong contender. A Kuruba leader,Eshwarappa is a staunch rival of Yeddyurappa. From Shimoga,Eshwarappa’s vote base,in fact,overlaps with that of the Congress.
It is understood the Lingayat leader’s views would be kept in mind as the party does not want a rebellion. Senior party leaders said the party would not like to upset him further by selecting a leader without first seeking his consent.
Yeddyurappa has served the party for 40 years and contributed immensely to building it in Karnataka. Just because he is facing these charges does not mean he should be dumped completely, a senior party leader said.
The outgoing chief minister’s hold over the Lingayat community,which overwhelmingly supports the BJP,is another factor weighing on the minds of the central leadership as Yeddyurappa arguably has a mass following among them.
A dark horse,acceptable to all and one who would not become too ambitious and difficult to handle,may also be considered by both the central leadership and Yeddyurappa.
Names of Yeddyurappa’s close associate Shoba Karandlaje and Home Minister R Ashok have crept up. Both are Vokkaligas with strong bases in South Karnataka. The choice can strengthen the party’s position since the Lingayats are going strong in the north. As many as 56 BJP MLAs are Lingayats among the party’s total haul of 119 in the Assembly.
There is a catch here. Yeddyurappa feels once Shoba Karandlaje takes over the post,he would never be able to make a comeback.
Karandlaje is a popular Vokkaliga leader who is also considered the most competent minister in the Cabinet. She is close to the RSS too. Yeddyurappa had said in a recent meeting with his supporters that he does not want to become another Uma Bharti, a party leader close to the chief minister said.
After being asked to step down from the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s chair,Bharti appointed her close associate Babulal Gaur to the post only to find later that she was out of the reckoning for good.
Yeddyurappa may agree to Acharya,sources said.
Another dark horse Yeddyurappa has backed in private is Rajya Sabha MP Prabhakar Kore. Kore is widely respected as an educationist. He recently jumped the JD-S ship to join the BJP.
Then there is former party president D V Sadananda Gowda,who too finds favour with Yeddyurappa. A former Member of Parliament,he is not a legislator now but could be made an MLC in a scheduled vacancy.
Another possible combination could be a chief minister,deputy chief minister roullette with Eshwarappa and Shettar or Gowda and Shettar.
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