After a week of uncertainty over the future of the BJP government in Karnataka,with dissidents demanding replacement of Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda,the Central leadership is working out a formula to buy peace that can last till the Assembly polls slated to be held within a year.
The high command is considering appointment of two deputy chief ministers,besides accepting the B S Yeddyurappa factions demand to give the CM post to senior leader Jagadish Shettar.
BJP sources said the leaders of three warring factions divided along caste lines Gowda (Vokkaliga),Shettar (Lingayat) and partys state unit chief K S Eshwarappa (Kuruba) appeared inching towards an agreement where Gowdas replacement will be accompanied by appointment of two deputy CMs from the other factions.
Leaders in Delhi indicated that they were awaiting the final word of commitment from all factions before a formal decision was taken,which was likely within a week.
The two deputy CMs being considered are Eshwarappa and Home Minister R Ashoka,a Vokkaliga. This option also provides a window for the party to rehabilitate Gowda as the partys state unit chief.
One of the other options was to elevate Shettar as the deputy CM and retain Gowda. This,the sources said,was not acceptable to the rebel camp and also the OBC block represented by Eshwarappa. The other option of replacing Gowda with Shettar and keeping all other positions unchanged was said to be not acceptable to the chief minister.
Senior party leaders,however,confided that a final decision would be approved only after either the party core group or partys Parliamentary Board gave its approval. Not ruling out changes in the current plan,senior leaders said they were still in touch with different factions for a peaceful accord. The Central leaders in Delhi said the entire shake-up would be done with an eye on the Assembly elections,keeping all three factions happy.
In Bangalore,Gowda too hinted that he was on his way out. On his return from New Delhi following parleys with the central leadership,the CM said a decision on leadership change would be taken within four or five days.
Asked if he expected to continue as the CM,Gowda told reporters after a Janata Darshan programme at his office: Whatever the decision (will be),I have the personal satisfaction of providing clean,good governance for the 11 months (that) I have been chief minister.
I am a loyal soldier of the party and will abide by whatever decision the party leaders take. Whether it is to continue or step down I will not view it as a bitter or sweet option. Whatever decision is taken I will see it as being part of a continuing process in a politicians life, he added.