Karnataka Janata Paksha supremo B. S. Yeddyurappa on Friday installed his close associate and former Minister Shobha Karandlaje as the working President of the party.

Ms. Karandlaje, who had served as the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister and later as the Energy Minister in the previous BJP government, is an ardent follower of Mr. Yeddyurappa, who quit the BJP last December and floated the regional party.

KJP won a mere six seats in the May elections to the 224-member Assembly but, more importantly, secured nearly ten per cent of the vote-share, denting the prospects of the BJP.

There was intense speculation over the future of KJP in the last couple of months and on whether Mr. Yeddyurappa, a political heavyweight, would return to BJP fold or join the Congress.

The former Chief Minister has chosen to play his cards close to his chest and kept his options open, and on Friday again ruled out KJP merging with any other party and said it’s open for a seat-sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha elections.

Asked if KJP is ready to have alliance even with Congress for the polls, he said, “We are not untouchable, we are ready for seat sharing with any party including the Congress depending on the situation prevailing at that time.”

But he asserted, “There is no question of merging KJP with any other party nor am I joining any other political party.”

KJP would maintain its identity and the party would be strengthened from the grass-roots level, Mr. Yeddyurappa said, adding, his party would contest eight to ten Lok Sabha seats (of the total 28 in Karnataka).

Meanwhile, Mr. Yeddyurappa also appointed former PWD Minister C. M. Udasi as the party’s senior vice president, as a new list of office-bearers of the party was announced.

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