Bangalore, July 18: The tug-of-war between BJP leaders in Karnataka has continued with Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and Dharwad MP Pralhad Joshi emerging as strong contenders for the post of State Bharatiya Janata Party president.
The need for choosing a new president has arisen as incumbent president K S Eshwarappa has become Deputy Chief Minister. Mr. Eshwarappa has to give up the party post as party norms do not allow a person to hold two important positions simultaneously.
The party is likely to choose the new president within a week.
While Mr. Kateel is being preferred by the party organisation, especially those from the camp of the former Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Mr. Joshi is said to have the strong backing of party national general secretary Ananth Kumar.
While Mr. Kateel hails from the coastal belt, Mr. Gowda’s native region, Mr. Joshi belongs to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s home district of Hubli-Dharwad.
Though Social Welfare Minister A. Narayanaswamy’s name is also being considered, the choice appears to have narrowed down to Mr. Kateel and Mr. Joshi.
Some of the staunch supporters of Mr. Gowda have been demanding that he should be given the party president’s post as a mark of respect for vacating the chief ministerial post.
But party sources made it clear that the chances of Mr. Gowda becoming party State president were remote going by the caste and community equations of its top leaders, as already R. Ashok, who is a Vokkaliga, has been elevated to the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, the group of dissident MLAs, who have raised a banner of rebellion against the party leadership over not giving them ministerial berths, is meeting in Bangalore on Wednesday to decide their future course of action.