Prahlad Joshi is new chief of Karnataka unit of BJP

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Prahlad Joshi
Bangalore, March 21: Prahlad Joshi has been appointed president of Karnataka state unit of the BJP today. The party, which was dilly-dallying on the name, had to hurry through as the elections were announced for the state assembly yesterday. Joshi, 50, is Member of Parliament from Dharwar constituency since 2004.

The appointment of Joshi speaks of the growing clout of Ananthkumar, national general secretary, and also the dominance of north Karnataka in the scheme of the saffron alliance. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar belongs to Dharwar's twin city Hubli and Joshi is resident of Hubli.

It is a sort of promotion for Joshi as he has been general secretary of state unit. A major factor that may have gone in favour of Joshi is that he is a Brahmin and in the party top structure this community adds to the complex caste combination of the state. After Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka presents most challenging caste politics and BJP had three major castes at the top - a Lingayat chief minister (Shettar) and two deputy chief ministers from Vokkaliga (R Ashok) and Kuruba (Eashwarappa) communities. Even though, Brahmins constitute very small number, now they have been added to the BJP's electoral mathematics.

Joshi's appointment was finalised after a day-long deliberations in New Delhi and it was announced by party's national president Rajnath Singh. The party was deliberating on the choice of a new chief for Karnataka unit of the party since March 7, when KS Eashwarappa quit. Even the visit of senior leader like Arun Jaitley could not bring a consensus on the issue.

Now that the party has a president, the state unit has fixed March 23 as the date on which it will finalise names of the candidates for the 224 seats and send them to central election committee for approval.

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