Gowda to be chief minister Thursday, Yeddyurappa faces trial

August 3rd, 2011 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Aug 3 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP D.V. Sadananda Gowda will take oath Thursday as Karnataka chief minister succeeding scam-hit B.S. Yeddyurappa, whose prosecution in a graft case was approved by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Wednesday.

The 58-year-old Gowda was elected the BJP legislature wing leader in a secret ballot amid high drama that exposed cracks in the ruling party that took power for the first time in Karnataka in May 2008.

He defeated Rural Development Minister Jagdish Shettar narrowly. Gowda got 63 votes and Shettar 55 as 118 legislators took part in the voting to decide a successor to Yeddyurappa, who quit Sunday after being indicted for corruption by the Karnataka ombudsman, N. Santosh Hegde.

Soon after the election Gowda met Bhardwaj and staked claim to form the government. The governor accepted the claim.

Gowda will be administered the oath of office and secrecy at Raj Bhavan at 4.30 p.m. Thursday.

He is likely to take oath alone as differences have cropped up in the party in the wake of a bitter fight to be the party’s second chief minister in a little over three years.

Shettar and legislators supporting him are meeting at his house Thursday morning for breakfast amid speculation they will decide whether to attend the swearing in of Gowda or not.

“We will meet over breakfast at Shettar’s residence,” outgoing home minister R. Ashoka, who lobbied hard for his election, told reporters shortly after Gowda’s victory was announced by party central leaders Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley.

Bhardwaj gave the sanction to “initiate criminal proceedings” against Yeddyurappa before the swearing in of Shivaraj Virupanna Patil, also a former Supreme Court judge, as the new ombudsman of Karnataka. Hegde’s five-year term ended Tuesday.

Yeddyurappa was present at Patil’s oath taking and headed straight to the legislature party meeting held at a luxury hotel nearby.

Gowda, a known Yeddyurappa loyalist, will be the BJPs’ second chief minister in a little over three years and will have 22-months in office as the assembly’s term expires May 2013.

A two-time Lok Sahba member and two-time assembly member, he will be the second chief minister from coastal Karnataka after M. Veerappa Moily, now the corporate affairs minister in the central government.

The voting to choose between Gowda and Shettar took place after a stormy two-hour meeting of the legislators. Speaker K.G. Bopaiah and a nominated member did not vote.

“As there was no consensus on a new leader, party’s observers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh told chief whip D.N. Jeevaraj to hold a secret ballot,” a BJP source told IANS.

As Gowda is not a member of the state assembly, he will have to get elected to the house or get nominated to the council within six months.

He belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga community while Shettar, 56, is from the dominant Lingayat community.

Gowda was backed by the Yeddyurappa faction while Shettar had the support of the faction led by Bangalore South Lok Sabha member Ananth Kumar and party’s state president K.S. Eshwarappa.

Yeddyurappa is facing five cases of corruption and illegal land deals filed by two Bangalore advocates.

On July 28, the BJP parliamentary board decided that Yeddyurappa should go. Party leaders said he was damaging the BJP’s image.

On Yeddyurappa’s prosecution, a communique from Raj Bhavan said: “The governor recommended the Karnataka Lokayukta to initiate criminal proceedings against Yeddyurappa … on the basis of the ombudsman’s investigation report on illegal mining.

“The governor also directed the ombudsman to take action against Yeddyurappa through the Lokayukta police and conveyed his decision to the registrar of the Lokayukta.”

The governor’s sanction comes a day after Yeddyurappa filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court Tuesday for a stay on the ombudsman’s probe report, which recommended his trial for corruption.

“Prosecution will be on the basis of the police investigation. It is now up to the new Lokayukta to go ahead with the investigation,” Bhardwaj told reporters.

In his final report on the mining scam, Hegde recommending the prosecution of Yeddyurappa, four cabinet ministers and scores of officers found guilty under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

It was found that an education trust run by Yeddyurappa’s family got Rs.10 crore from the South West Company of Jindal Steel Works, whose application for three mining leases in the mineral rich Bellary district was pending with the mining department that came under the chief minister.

The report found that Yeddyurappa’s sons B.Y. Vijayandra and B.Y. Raghvandra sold one acre land near the Bangalore airport to South West Company for Rs.20 crore though its market value was only Rs.1.40 crore.

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