DV Sadanand Gowda, who was elected successor to BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday, was not the outgoing Karnataka chief minister’s first choice.
If he had his way, BSY would have chosen energy minister Shobha Kharandlaje, a Vokkaliga. But she was not acceptable to the male-dominated BJP set-up and is also a relatively junior leader.
His other choice was higher education minister VS Acharya, a Brahmin, but he wouldn’t have fitted in with his gameplan.So BSY decided to go for Gowda, another trusted Vokkaliga — and not a fellow Lingayat — because he does not want his own standing in the community undermined once he is made chief minister, said BJP insiders.
In Karnataka’s caste-ridden politics, Lingayats number around 20% and Vokkaligas account for 17%. Brahmins do not matter as a block.
BSY’s idea was that, by proposing a Lingayat like Gowda, who is his trusted lieutenant, he would also be able to reach out to the Vokkaliga community, which has hitherto been seen as a preserve of the Deve Gowda family-headed the Janata Dal (Secular).
BSY’s target is the 2013 assembly polls. His declared goal is to criss-cross the state again, and work for a target of 150 seats.
It is no secret that BSY nurtures a strategy to return as chief minister in six months — once he is cleared by the court of the indictment handed down by former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde in connection with the illegal mining scandal.
A friendly Gowda could shield BSY from immediate legal action despite Governor HR Bhardwaj’s sanction of criminal proceedings against him on the Lokayukta report.
In fact, only a day earlier, BSY sought quashing of the Lokayukta report on illegal mining and questioned its recommendations to prosecute him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Sensing BSY’s strategy, his bitterest rival general secretary HN Ananth Kumar sought to rally Lingayat MLAs in support of revenue minister Jagdish Shettar, who is a Lingayat, to prevent what he said was an attempt by BSY to rule by “proxy”.
Kumar and BSY were once friends who turned rivals. BSY nurtured a grudge against Kumar since he triggered a revolt by the Reddy brothers in 2009 and BSY had to accept a peace formula brokered by Sushma Swaraj and other leaders.