As BSY quits, buzz over his successor gains momentum
Soon after BS Yediyurappa announced his resignation on Monday, everyone's focus turned to his possible successor. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to make an announcement on the new chief minister and state BJP leaders say a delegation from New Delhi will arrive in Bengaluru on Tuesday, and announce the decision.
When asked if he had suggested a replacement for chief minister, Yediyurappa said, “I have not given any names, nor will I suggest anyone. Who should be made (the next CM) is left to the central leadership. I will continue doing my work.”
HT spoke with several leaders in the party to get an idea of the names doing the rounds.A senior leader who has served in the Karnataka cabinet said that there could be a generational shift in the state’s leadership. “To give you an example, after the demise of Anant Kumar, the party chose to field Tejasvi Surya as the candidate. It was big change and it was for the long term. So such a change could be expected this time,” said this person, who didn’t want to be named.
A state minister said the chief minister could be from the all-powerful Lingayat community to which Yediyurappa belongs , adding that picking a chief minister from any other community would be mistake. “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 minister who too asked not 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, another party leader said.
However, other 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 will stand with the community,” an MLA from north Karnataka said on condition of anonymity.
Bellad is a two-term 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.
Meanwhile, there is also some talk within the party that a non-Lingayat leader could be selected for the top post and the names of Pralhad Joshi, CT Ravi and CN Ashwath Narayan have been doing the rounds.
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.
Joshi did hold a meeting on the Karnataka issue in New Delhi on Monday, and there is some speculation that the BJP might opt for a Brahmin candidate. “But the fact is that if they are considering Brahmin candidate, as much as Joshi, BL Santosh (BJP General Secretary organisation) has a chance. After Yediyurappa, he is the tallest leader in the party and he is very close to the Prime Minister,” said a BJP legislator from south Karnataka who asked not to be named.
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 that 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.