The heat generated in the Bharatiya Janata Party over the leadership issue has intensified with sections of party legislators pulling strings either to be accommodated in the new Ministry to be headed by Jagadish Shettar or for certain prime positions, including presidentship of the State unit of the BJP. This despite the party high command giving no clear indication that it is inclined to appoint a Deputy Chief Minister or change the president of the State unit, who now happens to be K.S. Eshwarappa.
Sources close to the Chief Minister-designate told The Hindu that unlike in the past when vacancies were retained in the Council of Ministers (the size can be 34 given the total strength of the Legislative Assembly), at least 30 Ministers would be inducted right away, either on the same day (Wednesday) when Mr. Shettar is sworn in, or a few days later.
Legislators from all sections will be accommodated in the Ministry to ensure that there is a semblance of unity. All the 22 Ministers in the Sadananda Gowda Cabinet are expected to be retained, which will mean that there will be several new faces in the Council of Ministers.
The central leaders of the BJP Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley arrived in Bangalore on Monday to complete the Ministry formation exercise in consultation with the party high command.
They have a more difficult task now given the fact that the State BJP is a much more divided house. The BJP has 121 members in the Assembly and virtually half of them are seeking a berth in the Ministry.
The BJP leader in charge of party affairs in the State, Dharmendra Pradhan, arrived earlier on Monday and held consultations with Mr. Gowda, apart from Mr. Eshwarappa even as several Ministers and legislators called on him to stake their claim for a position. At least two sections in the party are demanding the creation of a post of Deputy Chief Minister merely to serve certain caste groups.
Mr. Sadananda Gowda is expected to tender his resignation to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on Tuesday soon after the BJP Legislature Party meets and elects Mr. Shettar as the new leader.
With the dust settling on the leadership issue, the focus is now on government formation under Mr. Shettar.