Shettar is Karnataka’s new chief minister (Evening Lead)

July 8th, 2012 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Bangalore, July 8 (IANS) Desperate to prevent a split in the party and save its government in Karnataka, the BJP Sunday announced that Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar will be the new chief minister, replacing D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

The decision, announced by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi, was widely expected following mounting pressure from party’s first chief minister in the state B.S. Yeddyurappa, who quit last July over mining bribery charges, and his loyalists.

And in an attempt to ensure that Gowda doesn’t brew another revolt, Gadkari said the outgoing chief minister would be given an important role at the central and state levels.

Gowda, a victim of Karnataka’s never-ending caste politics, said he had no complaints and would abide by the party decision.

The announcement led to wild celebrations in Shettar’s hometown of Hubli, about 400 km north of Bangalore, and pall of gloom descended on most parts of coastal Karnataka from where Gowda hails.

The state BJP legislature party would meet in Bangalore Monday to formally elect Shettar, 56, as its new leader to enable him to meet Governor H. R.Bhardwaj and stake claim to form the government.

Gadkari said party leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh would go to Bangalore Monday for discussions with BJP leaders there.

Shettar would be the third BJP chief minister in four years and would have about nine months in office as assembly elections are due May next year.

Gowda was given a rousing welcome by his supporters at the Banagalore International Airport on his arrival from Delhi. He goes out of office without completing a year as he took over from Yeddyurappa Aug 4 last year, beating Shettar in the elections at the legislature party.

Gadkari justified the move to remove Gowda, though he has given a corruption-free administration.

“According to the present situation in Karnataka, he (Gowda) has told me that he is resigning from the chief minister’s post,” Gadkari told the media at his residence in New Delhi.

“He handed me his resignation as a good party worker. We have accepted his resignation,” he said.

“Keeping in mind the future of Karnataka, we have decided to give the leadership (in the state) to Jagadish Shettar”.

In Shimoga, about 280 km from Bangalore, state BJP chief K. S. Eshwarappa said Gowda would be given a suitable position in the party.

In a strategic move, Yeddyurappa, who has orchestrated the rebellion, has stayed away from media glare for nearly two weeks now.

The decision for the leadership change in Karnataka was taken Saturday by the party’s core group here.

Gowda told reporters outside Karnataka Bhavan here that he had quit as an “obedient soldier” of the party”.

“My central leaders have taken a decision to change the leadership in Karnataka for some political reason. As an obedient soldier of my party, the verdict given by central leaders has been whole-heartedly accepted by me,” Gowda said.

“I will be a loyal worker in the future as well. The incoming chief minister will be extended all cooperation by me.”

Gowda, who came to New Delhi Saturday evening, met party leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar at Advani’s residence. He met Gadkari Sunday.

BJP sources say the party is planning to make Gowda a Rajya Sabha member.He was a Lok Sabha member before he was handpicked by Yeddyurappa to succeed him in July last year.

Gadkari was all praise for Gowda.

“Sadanandaji has done excellent work, there are no complains of corruption or any other complaint against him,” he said.

He also made it clear that the step was taken eyeing the assembly polls in Karnataka and the Lok Sabha polls of 2014, and called on all state leaders to fight unitedly.

Yeddyurappa is the leading figure of the Lingayat community in the state which makes up 17 percent of the state’s population.

Gowda was Yeddyurappa’s choice to replace him over Shettar. But after the Karnataka High Court struck down the Lokayukta report, Yeddyurappa stepped up efforts to get back as the chief minister but Gowda failed to oblige him.

On Friday, Shettar and eight other ministers resigned from the ministry, forcing the party’s national leaders to agree to a leadership change.

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