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Will BJP buckle to caste equations in Karnataka?

Last updated on: July 29, 2011 12:51 IST

Will BJP buckle to caste equations in Karnataka?

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Vicky Nanjappa

Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party meets to select a new chief minister in Karnataka, it would try not to make the mistake that the Congress made in the past in the state.

While naming a successor to BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP would have to keep the very powerful Lingayat community in good spirits.

Many BJP leaders are aware of what the Congress had done in former chief minister Veerandra Patil's case.

The Congress had built up a solid vote bank among the Lingayats when they appointed Patil as the chief minister. However, he was unceromiously pulled down by the Congress high command overnight, leading to extreme disappointment among the Lingayat community.

The Congress has still not recovered from the wrath of the Lingayats, which constitutes 25 per cent of the vote share.

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While popular Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar would be the right choice for the BJP, the party would be weary of the fact that Yeddyurappa may try and play spoil sport.

Yeddyurappa has more than once said that he shall be the only Lingayat leader to hold the chief minister's post.

Reports from the party's inner circles indicate that the high command wants party leader Ananth Kumar to have a major say in the process to find a new chief minister.

And if Anath Kumar does have the last word, he would opt for Shettar.

Interestingly, Ananth Kumar's name too is doing the rounds.


Image: In happier times: Ananth Kumar with Yeddyurappa. In the Background is state BJP president Eshwarappa

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Shettar has the experience, has worked for the party for a long time and does not have scams against his name. He is also a very popular leader in North Karnataka. There is a talk even in the opposition that the government will survive its term if Shettar is made the Chief Minister.

What may go against Shetter, however, is that he is not too known a face in the cities as compared to the rest of the leaders. The point being driven by his rivals is that he is too dependant on Ananth Kumar and could turn out to be his stooge in the government.

If the BJP is unable to decide on Shettar and are forced to go in for a non-Lingayat candidate like Dr VS Acharya, R Ashok, Shobha Karandlaje, Sadananda Gowda or Eshwarappa, then they would have to make Yeddyurappa the state BJP president to keep the Lingayats in good humour.

The BJP, however, is not too keen on this.

The other option for them would be to go ahead with Yeddyurappa's candidate and ensure that he manages to keep this community happy.


Image: Jagdish Shettar

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Party sources say that Yeddyurappa has held back his official resignation to go in for a hard bargain and would want his say in the matter.

Yeddyurappa's critics point out that he is fighting a losing battle and he does not enjoy the support of a large number of leaders to pull down the government or break the party at the moment. However, there are others who also point out that he should not be underestimated at any point of time.

At the moment, there's a battle on between two lobbies with the BJP -- the Mangalore and the North Karnataka lobby. There is hectic activity on in both camps. Both camps are digging out information against each other to place before the national leaders who will be in Bengaluru soon.

Meanwhile, the joke in the political circle is that unlike a majority of the BJP leaders in Karnataka, Shettar is probably the only one who does not start or end any work with the consultation of an astrologer.



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