BJP to select K'taka's new Chief Minister today?

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BS Yedyurappa
Bangalore, Aug 3: The Chief Minister's seat in the state of Karnataka is still vacant following BSY's stepp down over his alleged involvement in illegal mining scam. BJP on Wed, Aug 3 is expected to decide on the person who would take up the post as next CM. The two men said to be forerunners for the post are Yeddyurappa's favourite Sadanand Gowda and Jagadish Shettar, who belongs to the rival camp of Ananth Kumar.

BJP would hold a meeting today to choose its new CM. The two rival BJP groups are huddled in two different luxury hotels at Bangalore and each insists their man be the next CM. Mr Yeddyurappa's group claims to have the support of about 70 MLAs and are quite sanguine that Sadanand Gowda will be picked.

Sadanand Gowda, an MP from Udupi Chikmagalur has been BJP state president and a non-controversial one - a considerable feat in a unit that has several power centres. Gowda has also been an MLA and deputy leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly. The Vokkaliga leader has a law degree and was a sportsman in college. He has a son - and he has so far had no allegations against him of corruption or nepotism.

Jagadish Shettar has been the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly and he too has been president of the state unit of the BJP. Shettar was also the BJP's first Speaker in the Karnataka Assembly. This Lingayat leader has had a rocky relationship at times with Mr Yeddyurappa, who picked him as Revenue Minister only after some pressure. He was most recently Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj. Mr Shettar has two sons.

The names of the candidates for the post of CM is not confined only to Gowda or Shettar, but there are many other names in the list. State BJP president K S Eshwarappa and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar is another competitor for the CM's post.

On the other hand, the RSS is said to be backing Suresh Kumar for the CM's seat in the absence of a consensus among warring groups. According to an anonymous source, the competition is still open to all.

The selection of our next CM would strongly depend on casteism. BSY belongs to the powerful and dominant Lingayat community. Ananth Kumar camp wants Jagadish Shettar, also a Lingayat, to be CM to neutralise Mr Yeddyurappa's indubitable influence. On the other side, the Yeddyurappa camp is pushing for Sadanand Gowda, who is a Vokkaliga, another dominant community. Gowda in the saddle also mean that Yeddyurappa remains the Lingayat strongman.

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