The BJP central leadership on Thursday appointed Dharwad Lok Sabha member Pralhad Joshi as new president of Karnataka unit.
The post was left vacant after K S Eshwarappa had resigned two weeks ago.
Joshi’s appointment was approved by a high level meeting of party leaders chaired by president Rajnath Singh here.
Though four others names were also doing rounds for the post including former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Mangalore Lok Sabha member Nalin Kumar Kateel, Kannada and Culture Minister Govind M Karjol and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok, the party preferred non-controversial Joshi to head the state unit in the run up to the Assembly polls. However, the party also decided to appoint Gowda as one of the office-bearers in the national committee, which will be reshuffled soon.
The party had tough time in selecting the president owing to internal differences. Both the RSS and Ananth Kumar were learnt to have opposed Gowda’s candidature, first time MP Kateel was considered as "too inexperienced", while Karjol was considered an "outsider" as he is originally not from the ruling party. Ashok name was dropped as many leaders reportedly felt that he should be kept out the post following Lokayukta probe against him in connection with land denotification.
Joshi, who is an active member of the RSS, has a comparatively wider appeal and hails from north Karnataka, considered to be stronghold of the party. In this region, the party is facing a threat from former strongman B S Yeddyurappa. After taking into account all these factors including support from the RSS and clean image, Joshi was selected, a senior party leader told Deccan Herald.
Soon after his choice, Joshi told reporters that he would take all leaders into confidence to ensure the party retains power in the southern state.
Joshi has his task cut out, with just under seven weeks to go for polls.
Anti-incumbency factor is weighing heavily on BJP leaders even as Yeddyurappa, who has formed the Karnataka Janatha Paksha, is hell-bent on spoiling the show.
Joshi will get down to work from Friday by attending a meeting at Mysore, followed by a party election committee meeting on March 23 at Bangalore to finalise the candidates list.