As the stage is being set for a possible change of guard in Karnataka, the BJP high command is yet to finalise the successor of chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. However, the high command is mulling over three candidates from the final list prepared in consultation with the RSS unit of Karnataka Pranth (region).
The final list included the names of Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Coal Pralhad Joshi, National General Secretary C.T. Ravi, MLA and former union minister Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal, the Speaker of Legislative Assembly Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri, Minister for Mining Murugesh Nirani and MLA Aravind Bellad, sources said. The name of National Organising Secretary B.L. Santhosh is also doing the rounds, they added.
The high command is thinking of various possibilities in Karnataka as it is being hailed as the gateway to South India. This include caste, region, loyalty to Hindutva principles, ability to take the party out from the shadow of Yediyurappa, etc.
The party is also focusing on winning the next assembly elections scheduled to be held in 2023. The strategy is said to be to install a candidate in the form of a chief minister, who could cut through caste politics and bring all castes under the Hindutva umbrella.
Union Minister Pralhad Joshi has been a party president in Karnataka and is credited to enrol as many as 1 crore members for BJP in the state. His participation in ‘Save Kashmir movement’ and ‘Flag hoisting movement in Edgah Maidan of Hubli’ is an added advantage. The caste factor, however, seems to put him on the negative side.
The party is also keen on C.T. Ravi, a former minister, who was snubbed by Yediyurappa and is now elevated to the higher ranks by the party. If the high command decides to give leadership to a candidate from other than the Lingayat community, he stands a better chance, say party insiders.
Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal, known for his fiery speeches, is a Lingayat from north Karnataka. The party thinks he could be the person to sideline Yediyurappa by taking independent pro-party decisions. However, the party will have to take a chance with his temperament, sources say.
Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri, a senior leader is among the most loyal party men in the state. His clean image might help him to get the CM’s post.
Though the name of Murugesh Nirani, a Lingayat is also doing the rounds, the high command is said to be considering corruption charges and court cases against him before taking a call.
The names of BJP Lingayat MLA Aravind Bellad, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, National Organising Secretary B.L. Santhosh are also being considered for the post, as per the party sources. However, it is said that Santhosh, considered as the bete-noire of Yediyurappa in state political circles, is said to be vouching for candidates who carry aggressive Hindutva in the state.
However, the party is also expected to spring a surprise by announcing a new face as the BJP top leadership has experimented in other states.