Bengaluru, July 27 (IANS) The BJP, facing daunting task of finding a suitable replacement for the four-and-a-half decade unquestionable leadership of Yediyurappa in Karnataka, is mulling various options, according to party insiders. The options include establishing a leadership to consolidate Scheduled Caste, other backward communities and Vokkaliga votes for the party along with keeping the Lingayat vote bank intact.
At the legislature party meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening, the party is said to be keen on these factors, before finalizing a candidate for the CM post.
Sources explain, if a Lingayat candidate is chosen for the top post, there will be three or more than three deputy chief ministers to give representation to SC, OBC and Vokkaliga communities. If a candidate, other than Lingayat, is given a chance, Yediyurappa's son B.Y. Vijayendra may be considered for the post of deputy chief minister, they added.
In this case, the party will keep one deputy chief minister post only to assuage Lingayat vote bank. In case, the party opts for a candidate other than Lingayat, three or more deputy chief minister posts will be created to accommodate other community leaders.
Former minister for Tourism C.P. Yogeshwar, former minister for family welfare B. Sriramulu, senior BJP leader V. Sunilkumar's names are said to be in the race of deputy chief ministers, sources said.
The party is also contemplating installing senior leader Aravind Limbavali as the party president. Limbavali, a Dalit leader from north Karnataka has managed to win elections in Bengaluru. The party is thinking that, if a Dalit is being made the party chief and other communities are represented in chief minister and deputy chief minister posts, it could deliver a solid punch to the vote bank of main the opposition party, Congress in the state.
The party is considering Murugesh Nirani, Aravind Bellad, Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal, Basavaraj Bommai under Lingayat quota. Vishveshara Hegde Kageri, Union minister Pralhad Joshi, B.L. Santhosh and C.T. Ravi are also considered for the top post.
Aravind Bellad is a second generation leader in the state BJP. His father Chandrakanth Bellad also served in the party and retired without getting any post. His contributions to the party are well remembered.
Aravind Bellad, a foreign-educated, soft-spoken leader from the strong Panchamasali sub-sect of the Lingayat community has emerged as a main contender for the CM post. He had visited New Delhi several times.
Murugesh Nirani, an industrialist and Panchamasali leader, had taken up trips to Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, also being considered for the CM's post. Though facing legal battles, he is said to be having good connections with Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal, a firebrand leader from the state had left the party once but rejoined later. He was union minister in the cabinet of Late PM Atal Bhari Vajapayee. He is the one who raised corruption charges against Yediyurappa and his son Vjayendra. He also led a movement for reservation for Panchamasali sub-sect and questioned Yediyurappa's commitment in this regard. It is said that all this is being done as per instruction of top leaders from New Delhi.
Basavaraj Bommai, a senior and mature leader managed good relations with Yediyurappa and rivals as well. He joined BJP from Janata Parivar in 2008, though being a blue-eyed boy of Yediyurappa, his ability to defend the party is appreciated by all.
Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri, one of the most senior leaders, is known as a soft-spoken, efficient and honest leader. As an education minister, his work has been widely appreciated and he manages to have a good rapport with juniors as well as senior leaders. Though, being a staunch Hindutva proponent, the party is thinking about whether he will be able to win elections for the party.
Pralhad Joshi, the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mining, though maintains that he is not interested in state politics, is seen as an efficient leader who could fill in the vacuum created by Yediyurappa.
B.L. Santhosh's name has also cropped up for the top post in Karnataka. Starting as RSS leader, he went on to become National Organising Secretary. He is said to be the man behind the action against Yediyurappa. It remains to be seen if he could be the man behind the making of a new CM or he could himself be the man for the post.
C.T. Ravi, presently, National General Secretary is a second generation leader who came to the forefront with Dattamala Abhiyan in Karnataka. A staunch follower of the party's ideology, he was snubbed by Yediyurappa but is in the good books of Santhosh.
With so many contenders and permutations at play, the central observers will have a tough challenge at hand at Tuesday's legislature party meeting in Bengaluru.