Bangalore, Aug 3: Ousted Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa's candidate and sitting MP D V Sadananda Gowda will be the new CM of Karnataka after his election in a closely-fought battle today in the BJP legislature party defeating Jagadish Shettar of the rival camp.
In a victory for the outgoing Chief Minister's camp, 58-year-old Gowda is understood to have got 63 votes in his favour while Shettar, backed by leaders of all hues opposed to Yeddyurappa, secured the backing of 55 MLAs.
After the election by a secret ballot, Gowda, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community, one of the two dominant groups in the state, was ‘unanimously' chosen as the leader of the BJP Legislature Party, according to Yeddyurappa camp leaders.
Gowda, former chief of the state party unit and who has his origins in the Sangh Parivar, has been an ardent supporter of Yeddyurappa and had backed him to the hilt in the last two years when the chief minister faced rebellion by ministers and Reddy brothers in the BJP's first government in the South.
The election by secret ballot came after central emissaries—Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu—failed to evolve a consensus to select Yeddyurappa's successor.
Shettar, who belongs to Yeddyurappa's Lingayat community, is backed by the group led by BJP National General Secretary and Yeddyurappa's arch rival H N Ananth Kumar and state party chief K S Eshwarappa. There is speculation that Shettar is tipped to become Deputy Chief Minister. The election brought out sharp divisions in BJP's state unit with Yeddyurappa aggressively pushing for Gowda's candidature after being asked to step down as Chief Minister following his indictment in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining. Yeddyurappa resigned on Sunday setting of an intense power struggle in Karnataka.
An affable and non-controversial figure, Gowda is a Lok Sabha member from Udupi-Chikmagalur. He has also served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the assembly After his election, Gowda addressed a press meet during which he promised to give “pro-development and people-friendly” government and tried to reach out to the rival camp by saying he would seek to unite and take everybody into confidence.
“I would like to give a good government...pro-development and people-friendly government and infrastructure-oriented government in the coming two years,” Gowda said, adding, “I intend to unite the entire party and take everybody into confidence and make the administrative machinery smooth.” Shettar on his part said he would extend cooperation to Gowda, adding, he is confident that the BJP government would give good governance in the remaining two years in power. He also defended the secret ballot procedure.. “In this political system, if the decision is made through consensus, it's okay. If not, taking up voting is natural. This is a normal process.It shows that democratic system is alive in our party”, he said.
BJP sources gave conflicting versions on the voting pattern. Some said 65 MLAs supported Gowda and 51 for Shettar while others maintained it's 64-53 and also 64-54, bringing into the open the sharp division among legislators. The election of Gowda, who is not a member of either House of the Legislature, has clearly demonstrated the hold Yeddyurappa has over legislators and his influence in BJP.
Ananth Kumar and Eshwarappa had opposed Gowda's nomination on the ground that Yeddyurappa was trying to rule by proxy.
The anti-Yeddyurappa camp proposed the name of Shettar, the Rural Development minister who has been a contender for the Chief Minister's post for a long time. Leaders of both factions, leaving nothing to chance, ferried their loyalist MLAs to separate star hotels in an attempt to guard them from being poached.
Minutes before the Legislature party meeting, Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar supporters brought their group of MLAs to the meeting venue in buses, an action which also brought to fore groupism in the state unit.
Yeddyurappa from being toppled during two rebellions within the party fold in Karnataka paid rich dividends for D V Sadananda Gowda, who is all set to become BJP's second Chief Minister in the southern state.
The close proximity and confidence he enjoyed with Yeddyurappa turned out to be a windfall for 58-year-old Deveragunda Venkatappa Sadananda Gowda, affectionately called ‘DVS' in BJP circles, who was elected leader of the legislature party through a secret ballot. A law graduate, the former public prosecutor-turned politician who is now the Udupi-Chikmagalur MP in Lok Sabha, is a seasoned politician and a deft handler of crisis.
A beleaguered Yeddyurappa, who had to face the axe and quit Chief Ministership following a Lokayukta report which indicted him in the illegal mining probe, made a hard bargain to install Gowda as his successor, frustrating other strong contenders like Yeddyurappa's bitter rival H N Ananth Kumar, Jagadish Shettar and state unit president K S Eswarappa. A science graduate, Gowda had a brief stint as an advocate before taking the plunge into politics through Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Jana Sangh.
Gowda, who headed the Karnataka unit BJP in 2006 and was re-elected in 2007, had played a key role in helping the party to power in the 2008 Assembly elections.
Sadananda Gowda today promised to give “pro-development and people-friendly” government as he sought to reach out to the rival camp in ruling BJP by saying he would seek to unite and take everybody into confidence.
“I would like to give a good government...pro-development and people-friendly government and infrastructure-oriented government in the coming two years”, Gowda told a press meet soon after being elected leader of the BJP legislature party. He said he would strive to continue to the “fullest extent” several development and welfare programmes initiated by the B S Yeddyurappa government in the last three years and seek to speed them up.
“I intend to unite the entire party and take everybody into confidence and make the administrative machinery smooth”, Gowda said.
“There is a need to create a system where common people live with dignity and self-respect”, Gowda said. Jagadish Shettar, who lost out to Gowda in the secret ballot after the party's central leadership failed to build consensus, said he would extend cooperation to Gowda, adding, he is confident that the BJP government would give good governance in the remaining two years in power. Shettar, propped by the camp of senior party leader H N Ananth Kumar and state unit President K S Eshwarappa, defended the move to elect the leader through ballot. “In this political system, if the decision is made through consensus, it's okay. If not, taking up voting is natural. This is a normal process. It shows that democratic system is alive in our party”, he said.
Gowda defeated Shettar in secret voting but the party chose not to speak on the specifics, with party sources giving conflicting numbers. Some said 65 MLAs supported Gowda and 51 Shettar, a few others maintained it's 64-53 and also 64-54, bringing into the open the sharp division among legislators.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj today invited the newly elected BJP legislature party leader D V Sadananda Gowda to form the government. A communique issued by Raj Bhavan said here that the Governor has invited Gowda to form the government after he staked the claim to form the government.
The communique said the BJP State President informed the Governor that the BJP Legislature Party had elected Gowda as the new leader of the Legislature Party and requested the Governor to invite him to form the Government.
Gowda also staked the claim to form the Government. PTI