Bowing to the pressures of the former Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to replace Sadananda Gowda by Minister for Rural Development Jagadish Shettar as Chief Minister.

The BJP’s Core Committee, which met here on Saturday, considered the situation and took the decision. Mr. Yeddyurappa, an influential Lingayat leader, has been mounting pressure for a change of guard in the State.

Mr. Yeddyurappa, who quit as Chief Minister in July last year after the Lokayukta indicted him on charges of illegal mining, initially insisted on his re-instatement. But, after the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations, he chose to back his erstwhile political rival-turned friend for the post.

There were differences within the BJP's central leadership over giving in to Mr. Yeddyurappa’s demand. Senior leaders like L.K. Advani opposed the idea on the ground that it would set a wrong precedent. They were of the view that it would be better for the party to face a fresh poll than effect a leadership change as the elections are due in less than nine months.

However, the majority opinion was to allow Mr. Yeddyurappa to have his way, given his influence in the Lingayat community.

Within hours of the Core Committee meeting, Mr. Gowda arrived here and met party president Nitin Gadkari. Having reconciled himself to the prospects of ouster, Mr. Gowda told reporters in Bangalore: “I am going to Delhi, and the party leaders will decide. I am ready to quit if my party high command tells me [to do so].”

On his arrival here, Mr. Gowda said a decision should not be delayed as 123 taluks “are under severe drought, and people should not feel that political disturbance in the State is affecting the functioning of the government.”

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