Bangalore: For 56-year-old Jagadish Shivappa Shettar, political life has come a full circle, in less than a year.
In August last year, he lost the contest for Chief Ministership to DV Sadananda Gowda, hand-picked by BS Yeddyurappa, who had to resign after being indicted by a Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
Eleven months later, he was the choice of the Yeddyurappa faction which was hell-bent on dislodging Gowda, whose relation with the Karnataka BJP strongman had soured, particularly in the last four months after he chose to come out of his grip.
Shettar, propped by senior party leader HN Ananth Kumar and state BJP president KS Eshwarappa last year, had taken the reverse at the time sportively likening it to a semi-final cricket match and said age was on his side.
Today, it was proved right. He will however have a short tenure. Assembly polls in Karnataka are due in May next year and there are also talks in sections of state BJP of opting for early elections, likely in December along with Gujarat.
His task appears cut out now. The ruling faction-ridden BJP has got to put its house in order and do so quickly, as infighting and acrimonious tussle on the leadership issue has dented its public image in no small measure.
Ministers and MLAs loyal to Sadananda Gowda who had publicly backed him in recent days as caste politics came to the fore are unlikely to take kindly to Shettar`s elevation, raising questions about the government`s stability. So, it`s interesting to see his performance as a "night watchman".
Soft-spoken Shettar, currently Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister, assumes charge at a time when the party is deeply divided, as caste-equations have come to play.
Yeddyurappa came in for flak last year by a section of the Lingayat community for backing Gowda, who belongs to the Vokaliga caste and not fellow-Lingayat Shettar.
This time around, Shettar should be thankful to Yeddyurappa who mounted pressure on the high command to make him chief minister after it was clear there is no chance for him to regain the post as he is facing a CBI inquiry on graft charges.
Shettar comes from a family that`s rooted in the erstwhile Jan Sangh. He was born on December 17, 1955 in Kerur village of Badami Taluk in Bagalkot district.
His father, Shivappa Shivamurthappa Shettar, was a Jan Sangh activist and consecutively elected as member of Hubli- Dharwad City Corporation for five times. He was also the first Mayor of Jan sangh in south India.
Shettar`s uncle Sadashiva Shettar was Member of Assembly from Hubli Constituency representing Jan Sangh in 1967.
Shettar holds BCom and LLB degrees and was a practicing lawyer for 20 years at the Hubli Bar. He was an activist of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He became BJP`s Hubli rural unit chief in 1990 and four years later was elected head of Dharwad district unit of the party. Shettar was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1994 from Hubli rural segment and had been re-elected from the constituency successively for four terms.
Shettar was made state BJP secretary in 1996, and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly in 1999 and served in that position when External Affairs Minister S M Krishna was the Chief Minister.
In 2005, he was appointed BJP state president. He served as Revenue Minister in the BJP-JDS coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy in 2006.
In 2008 after BJP came to power, he was made Assembly Speaker, much against his wish as Yeddyurappa allegedly chose to sideline him as he belonged to the same dominant Lingayat community. In 2009, he made a strong pitch to quit that post, and was made Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister.
Shettar married Shilpa in 1984 and the couple have two sons Prashant and Sankalp.