BJP rebels win, Shettar set to be K'taka CM

The central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to replace the Karnataka chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda with Jagdish Shettar to diffuse the crisis prevailing in the state unit. After a compromise was reached with the rebel camp, headed by the former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, on Monday, nine state ministers withdrew resignation on Monday. According to sources close to Yeddyurappa, 'an announcement to his effect will be made in two to three days.'

Shettar is all set to replace Gowda with the backing of Yeddyurappa. Incidentally, Shettar's elevation to the much-coveted office was contested by Yeddyurappa last August, when the latter was forced to resign following his indictment by the Lokayukta in a corruption case. The change of guard, however, may be delayed till the presidential poll, though the Yeddyurappa camp insists that 'it could be a matter of three or four days'. The nine rebel ministers have been persuaded by the BJP emissary Dharmendra Pradhan to visit Delhi to 'discuss and resolve' the issue pertaining to leadership.

The decision to replace Gowda comes as he has been unable to contain party's slide in the state. The loss in the the Udupi Chikmagalur Lok Sabha bypolls, vacancy for which had arisen following the election of Gowda as chief minister, proved to be the turning point. A close associate of Yeddyurappa, Gowda fell out with his predecessor after he tried to free himself from the apron strings of the former chief minister.

Gowda is also charged to have alienated the politically powerful Lingayat community, the mainstay of BJP in the state. Gowda was increasingly being seen as cosying up to fellow Vokaligga and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Deve Gowda. At one point of time, a section of the central BJP leadership toyed with the idea of once again tying-up with the Gowda clan and show door to Yeddyurappa. However, the move was nipped in the bud.

In the headcount within the legislature party last August, Shettar had trailed Gowda by mere seven to eight votes. Yeddyurappa had opposed his elevation then, fearing that a fellow Lingayat as chief minister could eclipse his influence in the community. However, the two decided to bury the hatchet to take on the 'common enemy' in the Gowda clan, whom the present chief minister is believed to be courting.
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