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Yeddyurappa nominee is new Karnataka CM
Sadananda Gowda narrowly beats Jagadish Shettar in secret ballot
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 3
Sadananda Gowda emerged victorious as the race for the Karnataka Chief Minister’s post was decided by voting with secret ballots after the ruling BJP failed to work out a compromise between the two warring factions of the party here.

Gowda (58) is at present a Lok Sabha member from Udupi. Backed by the outgoing Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, Gowda was pitted against Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Jagadish Shettar, who was propped up by Yeddyurappa’s rival camp headed by BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar.

Yeddyurappa, who had to quit the CM’s post following his indictment by the Karnataka Lokayukta in his report on illegal mining, had the last laugh as Gowda received votes from 63 MLAs as against 55 secured by Shettar. Fearing “cross-voting” by some of the MLAs of his camp, Yeddyurappa had initially opposed the secret ballot mode of election for choosing the new leader of the party’s legislative wing.

It turned out that some MLAs did ditch Yeddyurappa, who claimed support of 71 MLAs of Karnataka in the morning. The number of turncoats, however, was not enough to tilt the scale in Shettar’s favour.

The BJP has 120 MLAs in the 225-member strong Karnataka Assembly. Two BJP MLAs, including Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah, did not take part in the voting.

The meeting of BJP legislators to choose a new leader, supervised by party’s Central observers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, was initially scheduled for 11 am, but was deferred to 12 noon as last-minute efforts were made to come up with a consensus candidate.

Gowda, who is slated to be sworn as the CM on Thursday, belongs to the Vokkaliga caste.

Interestingly, despite Gowda’s challenger Shettar being a Lingayat, 24 out of 36 Lingayat MLAs of the BJP backed Gowda. This is because Gowda joined the race for the CM’s post as a protégé of Yeddyurappa, who is also a member of the Lingayat community.

While Shettar congratulated Gowda on his victory and assured him of his cooperation, the division in the party, it is feared, will cast a shadow on the functioning of the government in near future. The rift in the party may even show as early as tomorrow when the new CM will take oath. The function may not be attended by a section of party MLAs. A science graduate, who also has a law degree, Gowda has also served two terms as an MLA. He was also a president of BJP’s state unit. Having a “nice guy” image, Gowda does not have any corruption charges against him.

Following his election, Gowda, accompanied by BJP state president K Eshwarappa, met the Governor HR Bhardwaj and staked his claim to form the government in the state. “The Governor has appointed DVS Sadananda Gowda as the Chief Minister and invited him to form the government,” a Raj Bhawan communiqué said.

While election of Gowda as the legislature party leader gave an emphatic message about Yeddyurappa’s stature in the state BJP, despite the charges of scams against him, the day was also marked by the beginning of fresh trouble for the Karnataka strongman.

Fresh trouble for Yeddyurappa

Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj on Wednesday accepted the recommendation made against Yeddyurappa in the Lokayukta’s report on illegal mining and asked the Lokayukta police to start criminal proceedings against the outgoing Chief Minister. A communique from the Raj Bhawan said the Governor, the competent authority under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, took the decision after having carefully examined the report, along with relevant annexure, with reference to provisions of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1994 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.





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