New Delhi: With B S Yeddyurappa set to step down as Karnataka Chief Minister, the race for choosing his successor has begun in the BJP amid indications that the Lingayat leader’s views would be kept in mind during the exercise as the party does not want a rebellion.
Senior party leaders said while the Parliamentary Board was unanimous in its decision that Yeddyurappa’s continuance in office had become untenable as it was denting BJP’s fight against corruption, the party would not like to unruffle him further by selecting a leader without 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.
The names doing the rounds are Sadanand Gowda, BJP MP from Udupi Chikmagalur and former state unit president; V S Acharya, Higher Education Minister; Suresh Kumar S, Law and Justice Minister, among others.
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.
Sources said since Yeddyurappa is strongly opposed to party national general secretary and MP Ananth Kumar, the latter is ruled out.
Yeddyurappa has also ruled out Jagdish Shettar, another Lingayat leader and Rural Development and Panchayat minister in his cabinet, as he may become another power centre in the community.
The Chief Minister’s close associate Shoba Karandlaje is also not in the race as he feels once she 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.
BJP’s Karnataka unit president K S Eshwarappa, a prominent leader from the Kuruba community, and R Ashok, Home Minister in Yeddyurappa cabinet and a Vokkaliga leader, are also among the front runners for the Chief Minister’s post.