K’taka: Shettar stakes claim to form govt

Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar is set to take oath as Karnataka’s new CM on Thursday after his formal election as leader of the BJP legislature party amid high drama over demands from warring factions.

Updated: Jul 11, 2012, 14:01 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Bangalore: The Bharatiya Janata Party`s (BJP) legislative party leader Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday staked claim to form the ruling party`s third government in Karnataka. He will be sworn in as Chief Minister Thursday.

Shettar called on Governor HR Bhardwaj at Raj Bhavan with a letter from the ruling party`s state unit president KS Eshwarappa on being elected the legislative party leader Tuesday to become the BJP`s third chief minister in the state.

Shettar drove to Raj Bhavan in the city centre 30 minutes after the incumbent DV Sadananda Gowda submitted his resignation from the post and it was accepted by the Governor.

"The Governor has invited Shettar to take oath as Chief Minister and form the government at the earliest," Eshwarappa told reporters here later.

The party`s central observer Rajnath Singh, general secretary Ananth Kumar and former chief minister BS Yedduyurappa accompanied Shettar to Raj Bhavan.

"Shettar will take oath Thursday on the lawns of Raj Bhavan. Efforts are on to swear-in some legislators as cabinet ministers. Names will be discussed and finalised by late Wednesday or early Thursday," Eshwarappa said.

Wild celebrations broke at the official residence of Shettar with hundreds of his supporters, party cadres and leaders greeting his family members and relatives.

Shettar, 56, represents Hubli assembly segment in north Karnataka, about 400 km from Bangalore.

On Sunday, Shettar`s name for leader of the BJP legislature party was proposed by Gowda and seconded by state party president KS Eshwarappa, who too is a Gowda supporter. Shettar, in his thanksgiving, noted that all 121 MLAs had unanimously elected him.

The election of the 56-year-old Lingayat leader yesterday, which defused yet another crisis that gripped BJP`s first government in south India, came after some last minute muscle flexing by the outgoing Chief Minister’s camp that delayed the legislature party meeting by at least five hours.

Ahead of the legislative party meeting, Gowda and his loyalists demanded an assurance from the leadership that the state unit party presidentship would be given to him and deputy Chief Ministership to Eshwarappa.

Earlier, Gowda and about 50 legislators supporting him met at his official residence "Anugraha" in morning where they decided to stay away from the legislature party meeting scheduled for 1030 hours until an assurance was given to them.

Legislators loyal to Yeddyurappa, whose campaign forced a change of guard in the state, arrived at the meeting venue and waited till Gowda and his men attended it.
Gowda, Eshwarappa and others met Rajnath Singh to put forth their demands and later came to a star hotel where the Legislature party meeting was held.

Both factions once again engaged in the numbers game, with the Yeddyurappa group claiming support of 70 legislators and the Gowda camp about 50, giving anxious moments to Shettar with assembly polls less than a year away.

Caste polarisation in the camps also became glaringly evident during the entire drama with most Lingayat MLAs throwing their weight behind Yeddyurappa and almost the rest aligning with Gowda.

As parleys continued to defuse the eleventh hour crisis, senior leader Arun Jaitley left for Delhi for personal reasons, leaving the entire exercise to Rajnath Singh, who came along with him and General Secretary Dharmendra Pradhan, in charge of party affairs in Karnataka.

Singh, addressing legislators after Shettar`s election, said no decision had been taken on creating the Deputy Chief Minister`s post and it was the Chief Minister`s prerogative to decide on his ministerial team.

Thanking everyone including Yeddyurappa, Gowda and Anantkumar for his unanimous election, Shettar said his government`s top priority would be to address problems in drought hit areas.

He lauded the good governance by Yeddyurappa and Gowda and added this would ensure the party`s return to power in the next assembly elections.

Caving into pressure from the Yeddyurappa camp, the BJP central leadership on Sunday decided on a change of guard in a bid to end the leadership tussle that has troubled the BJP government.

Sadananada Gowda was allowed to rule the state for just 11 months by Yeddyurappa, who had handpicked him after he resigned as Chief Minister in July last year following his indictment by the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.

With PTI Input