Shettar to be elected leader of BJP Legislature Party soon

Jagadish Shettar, who will be the 21st Chief Minister of the State, the third in the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is expected to be formally elected the leader of the BJP Legislature Party on Monday or on Tuesday, depending on the convenience of the BJP central leaders — Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley — who are expected to be here along with the party in-charge of Karnataka, Dharmendra Pradhan, to oversee the election.

Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that the central leaders will be here for two reasons: to ensure a smooth transition in the election of the leader and to enable the finalisation of the party legislators to be sworn-in as Ministers. While the 22 Ministers, who formed part of the D.V. Sadananda Gowda ministry are expected to continue, the remaining 12 berths will have new faces, although the decision on whether Mr. Shettar will fill up all the berths or opt for keeping a few vacant berths is yet to be decided.

Not official

Interestingly, there has been no announcement yet, on the change of Chief Minister in the State, and consequently there has been no announcement on summoning a meeting of the BJP legislature party. There is also no official communication between the party high command and the State office. While Mr. Sadananda Gowda left for New Delhi to call on the party leaders, Mr. Shettar stayed put in Bangalore, and the State president of the BJP, K.S. Eshwarappa, was away in his home district, Shimoga.

Decision advanced

It is common knowledge that the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is the architect behind the change of the Chief Minister in the State. A group of nine Ministers in the Sadananda Gowda government, headed by Mr. Shettar, led a banner of revolt over the past fortnight, resulting in the latest round of political developments. Though the party had earlier indicated that the leadership change was expected to take place only after the July 19 Presidential poll, sources in the BJP said that it has been advanced by a few days in view of the Legislative Assembly session commencing on July 16.

While Mr. Sadananda Gowda enjoyed a 11-month rule, his successor (Mr. Shettar) who will head the 27th government in the State, will also enjoy an identical term. Mr. Yeddyurappa served for 38 months before being directed by the party high command to put in his papers following the charges levelled against him in a report of the State Lokayukta.

The BJP at present has a strength of 121 members in the Legislative Assembly, while it was short of three members for a simple majority (113 members in the 225-member Assembly) after the results of the Assembly elections held in May 2008 were announced.

Veteran

Fifty-seven-year-old Jagadish Shettar has been elected to the Legislative Assembly from the Hubli constituency for four successive terms, the first being in 1994. He has served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and has also held the portfolios of Revenue and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj. In July 2011, Mr. Shettar made a bid for the Chief Ministership, but in vain, losing the in-camera poll at a meeting of the BJP legislature party, wherein Mr. Sadananda Gowda was elected.

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