Owing to leadership crisis brewing in Karnataka, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior party leader Arun Jaitley assured warring state leaders on Tuesday that the party would take an appropriate decision soon. Apart from chief minister Sadanand Gowda, state party chief KS Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar were also present at the meeting.
There are indications that pressure from loyalists of former chief minister and Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa is making the party contemplate on replacing the chief minister. Jagadish Shettar is being seen as the frontrunner, but this could mean Gowda too being honourably rehabilitated as party president and Eshwarappa as the deputy chief minister.
The other option doing the rounds is that Gowda would remain the chief minister, Shettar would be the deputy CM and the council of ministers could be expanded to accommodate Yeddyurappa loyalists. Asked whether a formula would be worked out within days or only after the Presidential election, a senior BJP leader said all options were open.
Yeddyurappa — who had to step down in the wake of graft charges — had backed Vokkaliga leader Gowda for the top post, but soon began to clamour for a change. Now he's believed to be backing fellow Lingayat Shettar in a bid to retain his hold over the state amid clear indications that the party isn't ready to reinstate him in view of charges against him.
Eshwarappa - also a hopeful for the top post - is a backward Kuruba (shepherd) leader, and his caste is also a numerically powerful one after the Lingayats and Vokkaligas. What seems to be swinging the chances in Shettar's favour is that it is the Lingayats who brought the BJP to the fore in the state. Vokkaligas are known to be loyal to the JD (S). The party wants to retain its core support base of Lingayats while balancing the aspirations of other communities.