Jagadish Shettar has emerged as the frontrunner in what seems a likely leadership change in Karnataka, and which may come about even within a week.
Sources within the BJP indicate that Nitin Gadkari has tilted himself in favour of a replacement formula wherein Lingayat leader Shettar would replace present chief minister Sadananda Gowda, who was being opposed by former chief minister and Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa.
However, the party's Parliamentary board has to take a call on the matter before it is formalised.
However, LK Advani is widely seen to be skeptical of a replacement and has been of the view that even dissolution of the assembly is better than constant “blackmail” that harms the party's image. Yeddyurappa loyalists have viewed the BJP patriarch — seen as an Ananth Kumar-backer — as a recurrent hurdle in the Lingayat strongman holding his own in Karnataka affairs.
Officially, the BJP is still tongue-tied on the matter. “He could be,” a senior BJP leader said when specifically asked whether Shettar would be the next CM. Another BJP leader said this was the likely scenario but Advani would have to be taken on board. Sources say Ananth Kumar has been asked to bring Advani around to the formula. Gowda is likely to be given an honourable rehabilitation.
The BJP Parliamentary Board will have to take a call before putting its seal on the Shettar formula - now being preferred over the other formula of Shettar being Gowda's deputy - but this would primarily mean bringing Advani on board, with most other top leaders seen to be open to the change.
Aware that graft charges have made it virtually impossible for him to be back at the helm, Yeddyurappa has been pushing for Shettar.