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As BSY hints at exit, buzz over the next CM begins

Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who till now strongly denied all reports of his resignation, on Thursday, in a statement hinted that he may not remain in the chief ministerial post after July 26, the day his government completes two-years in office
PUBLISHED ON JUL 23, 2021 01:04 AM IST

Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who till now strongly denied all reports of his resignation, on Thursday, in a statement hinted that he may not remain in the chief ministerial post after July 26, the day his government completes two-years in office. This has led to fresh speculations in the state on who would be the next chief minister.

When asked, if he had suggested a replacement for chief minister, Yediyurappa simply said, “I will not make any suggestion (on successor)… who should be made (the next CM) is left to the central leadership. I’m not naming any one, there is no need for it also.”

While the leaders in the BJP claim that the decision will come from the central leadership of the party, there are some names doing rounds in the political circles.

HT spoke with several leaders in the party to get an idea of the names that have been doing the rounds. All leaders, including some ministers, insisted that such decisions are not made at the state level.

About the possible candidates, a state minister said a Lingayat chief minister is on the cards. “The party knows the importance of the Lingayat community. We have seen in the last three days how Lingayat seers have rallied behind Yediyurappa. We are hearing some names of (Murugesh) Nirani and Arvind Bellad,” said the leader who didn’t want to be named.

Nirani and Bellad are Lingayat leaders from north Karnataka, which is the heartland of the community. Nirani, a three-term MLA from Bilgi constituency, is currently the minister for mines and geology. Nirani is from the Panchamasali sub-sect of the Lingayat community, the largest sub-sect in the Lingayat community. Since there has been a demand for a chief minister from this community and from north Karnataka, he stands a good chance, a party leader said.

However, some leaders claimed that the Lingayat community didn’t want Nirani to be the chief minister. “He is a businessman, and the community wants someone who is a political figure and who would stand with the community,” said an MLA from north Karnataka.

Bellad is second time MLA but he is yet to get a cabinet position. While being a Lingayat leader puts him on the list of probable candidates, his lack of experience may work against him.

At the same, there are talks within the party that a non-Lingayat leader could be selected for the top post since the names of Prahlad Joshi, CT Ravi and CN Ashwath Narayan were also doing around in the political circles.

Joshi, who led the party in 2013, when the Yediyurappa left the BJP to form another party, is currently serving as the union minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal, and Mines. However, the state hasn’t had a Brahmin chief minister since 1988 and Joshi is a Brahmin from north Karnataka.

CT Ravi and Ashwath Narayan, who are from the Vokkaliga community, which is the second-largest vote bank in the state, are on the list of probable candidates. “There has been a talk in the party to move away from its dependence on the Lingayat community. Having a chief minister from the Vokkaliga community will help us break into the vote bank. And leaders like Ravi and Ashwath are young. They are good choices,” said a senior leader who didn’t want to be named.

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