But there is no unanimity still between rival factions of BJP

The selection of the next Chief Minister of Karnataka, 20th to head the government since 1947, has reached a feverish pitch. There is still no unanimity between the two rival factions of the Bharatiya Janata Party, indicative of the deep divide in the legislature wing.

The choice has narrowed down to the outgoing Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Jagadish Shettar, and MP representing Udupi-Chikmagalur D.V. Sadananda Gowda. The party's central leadership, which has steered clear of naming a successor to B.S. Yeddyurappa, has decided to leave it to the legislature party to select the leader.

The party's central observers, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, who were initially tasked with obtaining Mr. Yeddyurappa's resignation and thereafter identifying his successor, arrived here on Tuesday to restart the selection process, which they left midway on Sunday.

They merely said the political process of selecting the next Chief Minister was on, but declined to give a specific reply to the question whether the leader of the legislature party would be finalised through consensus or through ballot.

Never has the State witnessed such a prolonged power struggle, more so within a ruling party. The party took time to obtain the resignation of Mr. Yeddyurappa and thereafter to identify his successor. Both the rival groups are likely to chalk out a political strategy in the event that their nominees fail to be selected. Mr. Yeddyurappa has conveyed to the central leadership that Mr. Shettar's candidature is not acceptable to him. He raised a similar objection to the former Union Minister and MP from Bangalore South, Ananth Kumar, two days ago.

Mr. Shettar has been in the race for chief ministership at least three times in as many years. He belongs to the Veerashaiva (Lingayat) community, like Mr. Yeddyurappa.

He was sidelined soon after the BJP came to power in 2008 and was subsequently elected Assembly Speaker. Thereafter, during the first intra-party revolt led by the Bellary Ministers and again the following year, Mr. Shettar was the choice of the rebels.

As for Mr. Sadananda Gowda, identified as a Yeddyurappa loyalist, he is a relatively non-controversial person. He has served as president of the party's State unit for a term.

“The next Chief Minister will be selected through consensus and I am confident that the central leadership will render justice,” Mr. Yeddyurappa told The Hindu.

Interestingly, the selection process could also throw up surprises, with a rank outsider coming into the reckoning to ensure unity within the party.

More In: Karnataka | National | News