The Bharatiya Janata Party high command is likely to replace Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda with Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Jagadish Shettar.

According to highly placed sources in the BJP, the party high command — which heard the views of Mr. Gowda, Mr. Shettar and State party president K.S. Eshwarappa in Delhi on Tuesday — is likely to announce its decision early next week.

“We are expecting the central leaders to announce their decision anytime between Monday and Wednesday. This is because the new leader and his team of Ministers have to take oath well before the legislature session starts on July 16,” sources said.

This is being described in party circles as a “major overhaul” because replacement of the incumbent Chief Minister will also bring about a change in the post of State party president. Besides, a Deputy Chief Minister will have to be appointed to balance caste equations, especially with an eye on the next Assembly elections.

“We are considering the names of Mr. Eshwarappa and Home Minister R. Ashok for the post of Deputy Chief Minister. We are examining two options: appointing either of them or creating two posts of Deputy Chief Minister to accommodate both,” sources said.

The party is said to be still undecided on whether to appoint Mr. Gowda as State party president. “We are not averse to the idea of bringing in a new face for the president’s post in a bid to nurture the next line of leadership in the party,” sources said, even as they made it clear that no final decision had been taken on the matter.

The party high command is expected to announce its decision on leadership change at a legislature party meeting to be held in Bangalore next week. The central leaders are learnt to have warned of stern action against those violating party discipline and also made it clear that they would not mind losing the government when it comes to handling indiscipline. According to sources, the high command is expected to reiterate its warning at the legislature party meeting and ask the party to abide by the decision taken by it on leadership.

The party is learnt to have settled for Mr. Shettar, a Lingayat leader hailing from north Karnataka, for the top post to retain its Lingayat vote base in the next Assembly polls, which are likely to be held in December, instead of in May 2013 when the current Assembly’s term ends.

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