Bangalore, July 10: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators in Karnataka elected on Tuesday Jagadish Shettar as their new leader to make him the party's third chief minister in the state in four years.
"The BJP legislature party meeting has been convened here at 11 a.m. Tuesday to unanimously elect Shettar as the new leader through a resolution. The meeting will be presided by central observers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley," a party spokesman had earlier told IANS.
A day after BJP president Nitin Gadkari announced in New Delhi Sunday that Shettar would replace incumbent Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, hectic parleys were held throughout Monday in the party state unit, with ministers, lawmakers and cadres discussing the legislature meeting and formation of the new government ,including cabinet representations.
Party state in charge Dharmendra Pradhan held discussions with leaders and legislators at the party office in the city and called on Shettar, Gowda and party general secretary Ananth Kumar for a smooth change of the government.
"Efforts are on to pass a unanimous resolution at the legislators' meeting electing Shettar as the leader to head the new government. Gowda will be requested to move the one-line resolution," the spokesman said.
Gowda is likely call on Governor H.R. Bhardwaj early Tuesday at Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation and proceed to a hotel in the city centre for the legislature party meeting. After the meeting, Shettar will meet the governor and stake claim to form the government with the resolution from the party state unit president (K.S.Eshwarappa) appointing him the leader of the house (assembly), the spokesman said.
On receiving the governor's letter inviting him to form the government, Shettar will decide onthe oath-taking ceremony in consultation with the party leaders.
In a related development, hundreds of Vokkaligas community members, including lawmakers and cadres across parties, Monday protested against the ouster of Gowda, allegedly on caste considerations. Heads of social and religious organisations belonging to the Vokkaliga community joined rallies and held demonstrations across Bangalore, Mandya and Mysore, criticising the BJP for playing caste politics and succumbing to the pressures of the rival Lingayat community to replace Gowda with Shettar as its third chief minister in the state.
Though Lingayats are a dominant community in the state constituting around 17 percent of the 65 million people across the state, Vokkaligas are also an equally powerful caste group accounting for 16 percent of the population
Bowing to the mounting pressure of former chief minister B.S Yeddyurappa and his supporters for a change in the party leadership, the BJP high command decided to replace Gowda with Shettar with an eye on the next assembly elections due in Apri-lMay 2013.
Gowda became the ruling party second chief minister August 4, 2011 after scam-hit Yeddyurappa resigned July 31 following his indictment by then Karnataka Lokayukta (ombudsman) Justice (retired) N. Santosh Hegde on bribery charge in the multi-crore mining scam that rocked the state.