Caste, region did the trick for Shettar in Karnataka | india | Hindustan Times
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Caste, region did the trick for Shettar in Karnataka

india Updated: Jul 11, 2012 09:10 IST
BS Yeddyurappa

With Karnataka BJP strongman and foe-turned-friend BS Yeddyurappa on his side and the caste factor working in his favour, 56-year-old Jagadish Shivappa Shettar had things going for him this time, particularly when Assembly elections are less than a year away.

The scene on Tuesday is in sharp contrast to the one seen in August last year when Yeddyurappa, not in a position to digest the rise of another leader from Lingayat community to which he also belongs, backed DV Sadananda Gowda, a Vokkaliga.

Eleven months later, it was role reversal of sorts as it were as the powerful Yeddyurappa faction wanted Gowda to go, after things did not go as they planned and the incumbent chief minister chose to come out of their shadow.

Shettar lost to Gowda in the election at the legislature party meeting last year and ironically, the latter on Tuesday had to pave the way for him to step into his shoes.

The BJP central leadership appeared to have been convinced by Yeddyurappa camp's contention that the party needs to fight the Assembly election, due in May next year, under a Lingayat leader, clinching the issue in favour of Shettar.

BJP counts Lingayats, a majority community, as its main vote bank and Shettar also hails from north Karnataka, a region that the party considers its stronghold. Both the factors did the trick for Shettar.

Shettar, propped up by senior party leader HN Ananth Kumar and state BJP president K S Eshwarappa last year, had taken the reverse at that time sportively, likening it to a semi-final cricket match and said age was on his side.

On Tuesday, it has been proved right. He will, however, have a short tenure with assembly polls barely a year away. There are also talks in sections of state BJP of opting for early elections, likely in December along with Gujarat.

Shettar's task appears cut out now. The ruling faction-ridden BJP has got to put its house in order and do so quickly, as infighting and acrimonious tussle on the leadership issue has dented its public image in no small measure.

Ministers and MLAs loyal to Sadananda Gowda, who had publicly backed him in recent days as caste politics came to the fore, are unlikely to take kindly to Shettar's elevation, raising questions about the government's stability. So, it will be interesting to see his performance as a "night watchman".

Soft-spoken Shettar, currently Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister, assumes charge at a time when the party is deeply divided, as caste-equations have come to play.

Shettar comes from a family that's rooted in the erstwhile Jan Sangh. He was born on December 17, 1955 in Kerur village of Badami Taluk in Bagalkot district.

His father Shivappa Shivamurthappa Shettar was a Jan Sangh activist and consecutively elected as member of Hubli-Dharwad City Corporation five times. He was also the first Mayor of Jan Sangh in South India.

Shettar's uncle Sadashiva Shettar was MLA from Hubli constituency representing Jan Sangh in 1967.

Shettar holds BCom and LLB degrees and was a practising lawyer for 20 years at the Hubli Bar. He was an activist of Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

He became president of BJP's Hubli Rural unit in 1990 and four years later, was elected head of the party's Dharwad district unit. Shettar was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1994 from Hubli Rural segment and had been re-elected from the constituency successively for four terms.

Shettar was made state BJP secretary in 1996. He was made Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly in 1999 and served in that position when external affairs Minister SM Krishna was the Chief Minister.

In 2005, he was appointed as BJP Karnataka president and served as revenue minister in the BJP-JDS coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy in 2006.

In 2008 after BJP came to power, he was made Assembly Speaker, much against his wish as Yeddyurappa reportedly chose to sideline him as he belonged to the same dominant Lingayat community. In 2009, he made a strong pitch for quitting the post and was made Rural Development and Panchayat Raj minister.

Shettar married Shilpa in 1984 and the couple have two sons Prashant and Sankalp.