BJP, which has decided to serve marching orders on its tainted Karnataka Chief MinisterBS Yeddyurappa, was in the process of selecting his successor. Front runners, Jagdish Shettar, KS Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar, were engaged in marshalling support for their respective bids.
TheBJP leadership had already concluded that Yeddyurappa’s continuance as chief minister would severely undermine its campaign against corruption at the Centre. The Karnataka crisis has given some respite to the scandal-riddenManmohan Singh government.
Yeddyurappa was so far using his Lingayat clout to push the leadership around whenever demands for his resignation were aired by his detractors both within and outside BJP.
In a development that has considerably raised comfort level for the party, the chief priest of Udupi’s Pejawar mutt said: “Yeddyurppa, like Caeser’s wife, should be above suspicion.” The Pejawar Swamy wields considerable clout in the Lingayat community and his backing for the chief minister has helped Yeddyurappa to fend off trouble. The seer’s views counts within BJP. “The chief minister now will not be in a position to play the caste card,” said a BJP leader.
Although the BJP leadership is of the view thatJustice Santosh Hegde did not follow the procedures, “it was a trial through 24X7 channels before the report was submitted to the state government”, there is acknowledgement that they cannot point accusing fingers at the Lokayukta. “That will go against the prevailing public mood against corruption,” said a BJP leader.
The succession issue is not going to be easy as the outgoing chief minister will have a say in the selection process. Among the three contenders, Shettar and Kumar are long-term rivals of Yeddyurappa. Shettar, a fellow Lingayat, has been spearheading a campaign against the chief minister. In any case, Yeddyurappa may not like another Lingayat leader to be installed as the chief minister.
Kumar, who has the backing of leaders like LK Advani, is a controversial figure in state politics. Kumar belongs to the Brahmin community which does not have political muscle in the state. The legislators may not allow the central leadership to foist Kumar on them. Eshwarappa, who belongs to Backward Kuruba community, is hoping that his non-controversial image could help him clinch the post. “The next few hours are critical for the selection process. The formal talks will begin after the chief minister reaches Delhi,” said a BJP general secretary. Economic Times