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BS Yediyurappa bows out, new CM later this week

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The BJP is expected to name the new chief minister of Karnataka by Friday and the oath-taking may happen on Saturday-Sunday, after BS Yediyurappa resigned on Monday, bowing to the party’s wishes. The party has drafted union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan and national general secretary in charge of the state Arun Singh to Bengaluru to gather opinion of the party MLAs.

The BJP parliamentary board meeting will decide on Yediyurappa’s successor, and the legislature party will formally endorse the name. Soon after Yeddyurappa announced he is quitting, BJP president JP Nadda went into a huddle with home minister Amit Shah and Arun Singh. Pradhan is familiar with Karnataka as he was the general secretary incharge when Yeddyurappa faced the first rebellion with the Reddy brothers in 2009.

The party is expected to act swiftly as parts of Karnataka are facing massive floods, and without a government in place, relief efforts will take a backseat. With decision-making getting highly centralised in the BJP, the party has sprung several surprises while choosing CMs and appointing ministers. However, the name of mines & geology minister Murugesh Nirani, a Lingayat leader from the Panchamasali subsect, was doing the rounds in the corridors of power in Delhi to replace Yeddyurappa.

The MLA from Bilagi seat in Bagalkot district was in the national capital on Monday and met the BJP leadership. The party’s central leadership, a leader said, has taken note of the sentiments of Lingayats, the community Yediyurappa belongs to, and will carefully try to balance the caste equations in the new dispensation. This probably meant the party may appoint deputies from other dominant communities to carry the party’s loyal vote banks along.

After its experience in Uttarakhand where Tirath Singh Rawat, an MP, had to quit as the CM as no by-elections were likely in the next few months due to the Covid pandemic to make him an assembly member, the BJP is likely to choose one of its sitting MLAs and not go for any of the heavyweight Karnataka leaders in the union cabinet or Nadda’s team. Nevertheless, the names of union minister Pralhad Joshi and Haveri MP Shivakumar Udasi did float as CM probables.

A key question is whether BJP’s national general secretary (organisation), BL Santhosh, will have his say in the selection of a new chief minister. His name too has been in the circulation besides those of national general secretary CT Ravi and deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan, both Vokkaligas. But if the party were to opt for a Lingayat leader to take forward Yediyurappa’s legacy, then state ministers Nirani, Jagadish Shettar, Basavaraj Bommai and MLA Aravind Bellad are the front runners. I

It is a challenge for the BJP to find a suitable replacement to Yediyurappa since no other leader from the party enjoys the mass appeal the outgoing chief minister does. The party, leaders said, was looking for someone who can neutralise the Congress in the 2023 assembly polls, and repeat its 2019 feat in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

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