After weeks of infighting, Jagadish Shettar was formally elected leader of the Karnataka BJP legislature wing on Tuesday. But going by the events clouding Tuesday’s meeting, the crisis is far from over.
It all began when in a move orchestrated by former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, Shettar and eight ministers resigned from chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda’s cabinet to force a change of guard.The meeting scheduled for 10.30am began nearly five hours late as supporters of outgoing chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda brought out the bargaining chips.
Gowda, and about 50 legislators supporting him, met at his official residence, Anugraha, on Tuesday morning. They decided to stay away from the meeting till Gowda was named president of the BJP state unit and the incumbent KS Eshwarappa deputy chief minister.
In the meantime, legislators loyal to BS Yeddyurappa arrived at the meeting venue, where they waited for the Gowda faction.
Eventually, the Gowda camp was won over by party seniors Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, who got them to attend the meet with the promise that their demand would be considered by the BJP national leadership.
After the meet, Singh announced that Gowda will submit the resignation to governor HR Bhardwaj on Wednesday and Shettar will be sworn in on Thursday.
Though the crisis was defused at the eleventh hour, the caste polarisation in the camps was glaringly evident, with most Lingayat MLAs throwing their weight behind Yeddyurappa and the rest aligning with Gowda.
The Vokkaliga Association members staged a mass rally in Bangalore and also in the district headquarters opposing the resignation of Gowda.
Lingayats and Vokkaligas are dominant social groups in Karnataka.
The Nanjavadhutha Seer of the Vokkaliga community, who has been engineering the protests, also demanded that all Vokkaliga MLAs resign if Gowda is not given a suitable post.