In secret ballot at Legislature Party meet, he defeats Jagadish Shettar 65-51

Senior BJP leader D.V. Sadananda Gowda, 58, will be the next Chief Minister of Karnataka after having been elected leader of the BJP Legislature Party in a secret ballot on Wednesday. The party had witnessed sharp differences over the choice of a successor to B.S. Yeddyurappa, who resigned on Sunday.

After hectic efforts by BJP central observers — Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley — to bring about a consensus between the warring factions failed and voting was resorted to as demanded by a section of the legislators, Mr. Gowda emerged victorious. He defeated the outgoing Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Jagadish Shettar, who enjoyed the support of the Bellary Ministers, among others.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj appointed Mr. Gowda Chief Minister and invited him to form the 26th government. He will be sworn in on Thursday.

Given the support that he enjoys in the 13th Assembly, the Governor has refrained from asking Mr. Gowda to prove his majority on the floor of the House as is the practice. Mr. Yeddyurappa had backed Mr. Gowda for the top post.

It is the first time in the history of State politics that a ruling party, which enjoys a commanding majority of 120 legislators in a 224-member House had to resort to secret ballot, aimed at maintaining the party's unity and keep its government intact. While 65 legislators voted in favour of Mr. Gowda, 51 voted for Mr. Shettar and three others abstained from voting. Speaker K.G. Bopaiah cannot participate in a meeting of the Legislature Party and so are independent members supporting the ruling party.

Stakes claim

Soon after his election, Mr. Gowda called on the Governor and staked claim to form a government. He also submitted a letter (resolution adopted at the meeting of the BJP Legislature Party) addressed by the State unit president. Incidentally, Mr. Gowda is not a member of either House of the Legislature and has to get himself elected within six months as envisaged under Article 164 of the Constitution. He is now a member of the Lok Sabha representing the Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency. In the 2004 election, he was elected from Mangalore.

Disappointment

The faction led by the former Union Minister, Ananth Kumar, which supported Mr. Shettar, has expressed disappointment at the verdict and is stated to be contemplating boycotting the swearing-in.

With this, the deep division within the ruling party is set to aggravate.

Mr. Gowda has started discussions with the former Chief Minister on ministry formation.

More In: Karnataka | National | News | States