Jagadish Shettar gets lucky the second time

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Jagadish Shettar
Bangalore, Jul 11: When Jagadish Shivappa Shettar takes oath as the 27th Chief Minister of Karnataka tomorrow, he will probably reflect for a moment on the vagaries of fate.

Nearly 11 months ago, his bid for the top post was thwarted by the state BJP strongman BS Yeddyurappa but this time round the same person ensured his elevation from the rank of cabinet minister. Ironically, the caste factor was at play on both occasions.

Yeddyurappa did not back Shettar in Aug 2011 because he feared the latter would challenge his primacy in the Lingayat community. Instead, he extended support to DV Sadananda Gowda who is a Vokkaliga.

However, Yeddyurappa lost faith in his successor by March this year. Gowda refused to toe his line on most matters. Since Yeddyurappa had by then got embroiled in one corruption case after another, the BJP central leadership insisted they won't allow him a second chance.

At that stage, Yeddyurappa tried to have Gowda replaced by Shettar but his efforts did not succeed. Months down the line, the former CM managed to convince the party high command that Shettar is the best choice.

Not only has the 56-year-old been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for long, Shettar also exercises considerable influence in north Karnataka where BJP is particularly strong. The party believes it will do well in the next Assembly polls if a Lingayat is at the helm of affairs.

The son of Shivappa Shivamurthappa Shettar and Basavanemma clearly benefitted from all these calculations. Jagadish Shettar was born on Dec 17, 1955 in Kerur village of Badami Taluk in Bagalkot district. His father, a Jana Sangh activist, became Mayor of Hubli-Dharwad after winning five consecutive civic body polls.

Shettar is a Commerce graduate and practised as a lawyer for two decades at Hubli. He joined the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad at a young age and later became an RSS member. He gradually rose through BJP ranks and was appointed the party's Dharwad district president in 1994, BJP state secretary in 1996 and finally state president in 2005.

The voters of Hubli Rural constituency elected him in 1994. Four successive terms Shettar served as their MLA. He was the Leader of the Opposition during SM Krishna's time as CM.

Shettar was made the Revenue Minister by HD Kumaraswamy after BJP and JD(S) formed a coalition government in 2006. Two years later, Yeddyuarappa led the first-ever BJP government in Karnataka. At this juncture, Shettar functioned as the Assembly Speaker. In 2009, he resigned to take up the portfolio of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj which he has held till date.

As of now, it is not clear how long Shettar will reign. Ideally, the 21st person to sit in the Karnataka CM's chair should continue till 2013. However, indications are that the ruling party may opt for early Assembly elections. If that happens, he will only enjoy a brief tenure.

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