BJP’s unsavoury week ends on stormy note

August 3rd, 2011 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Aug 3 (IANS) It was a week the BJP would like to forget.

Slogan-shouting and jostling marred the election of D.V. Sadananda Gowda as the new leader of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) legislature wing in a contest meant to decide who will be the next Karnataka chief minister.

The 58-year-old emerged narrowly victorious in a secret ballot held after desperate efforts to reach a consensus over the two contenders — Gowda and Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar — failed.

Gowda got 62 votes and Shettar 55. The party has 120 members but only 117 voted.

But the election exposed the faultlines in the BJP, a party which has always prided on unity and discipline.

On Wednesday, Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommended the trial of the 68-year-old outgoing chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa for corruption arising out of illegal mining.

The BJP leadership met in New Delhi Thursday and “unanimously” decided that Yeddyurappa should go.

But it did not expect its “loyal soldier” to defy its marching orders.

He held out for three days, and finally quit Sunday after the BJP conveyed to him that he and his supporters would be expelled.

Even before Yeddyurappa submitted his resignation Sunday, the party began the exercise of finding a successor.

Here too it encountered unexpected resistance for consensus.

Central leaders Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley worked for over two days. On Wednesday came the showdown between the rival groups.

Gowda is a Lok Sabha member from Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency, about 400 km from Bangalore.

State party chief K.S. Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa’s bete noire, and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member and general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar and their supporters were dead set against Gowda.

They feared that if Gowda became the chief minister, real power would be with Yeddyurappa.

So they put up Shettar, 56, as their candidate.

For three days, legislators belonging to the two groups stayed in hotels in Bangalore, holding countless meetings.

BJP central leaders rejected Yeddyurappa’s demand that he be made the state party chief.

A secret ballot was held after a noisy meeting ended amid jostling at a hotel in city centre Wednesday.

Gowda has just 22 months - the assembly’s term expires in May 2013 - to bring governance back on rails, after a week of virtual rule by officials as ministers were sucked into party affairs.

The immediate problem will be forming a cohesive ministry and ensuring a smooth working relationship with the party apparatus.

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