Arun Jaitley has his plates full

Race for top post narrows down to Kateel, Ashoka

Arun Jaitley has his plates full

 Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley will have a tough job in hand on Saturday while finalising the next president of the party State unit, with various factions in the party lobbying hard. The post needs to be filled following the resignation of K S Eshwarappa on Thursday. 

Jaitley will participate in the party’s core-committee meeting on Saturday morning and hold a one-on-one discussions with the BJP top brass in the State. The party’s election strategy and the first list of shortlisted candidates for the Assembly elections will also be discussed, sources said. Jaitley landed in Bangalore on Friday evening.

The race has now narrowed down to Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka. However, former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda is said to be opposing Ashoka’s nomination. It is turning out to be battle a for oneupmanship between the two Vokkaliga leaders. Gowda’s action is being viewed as an upshot of Ashoka opposing Gowda’s candidature for the post, when the party central leadership had almost cleared it a couple of months ago. Though K S Eshwarappa was keen on continuing as the party president, he resigned knowing well that the party would not have allowed him to continue.

Party national general secretary Ananth Kumar was keen on making his candidate of choice Pralhad Joshi or a Vokkaliga the president. He has reportedly opposed Nalin Kumar Kateel’s candidature. With the RSS backing him, Kateel may finally get through. The BJP may prefer a Bunt over a Vokkaliga because the party has a stronger base in the coast than in the old Mysore areas. The factor that weighed against Kateel was that he has absolutely no clout in any part of the state except his constituency, Dakshina Kannada, sources said.

Even Sadananda Gowda, it was said, does not have many takers in the party as he is not considered a charismatic leader. However, he had earlier functioned as the president and does not have many enemies within the party. In case of Ashoka, he is neither considered the voice of the Vokkaligas, nor has he toured the state as much as Gowda. Ashoka has confined himself to Bangalore and surroundings areas.

Oratory skills

MP Pralhad Joshi, known for his oratory skills, hails from the Dharwad district. This may act against him because Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, who is from the same district, is already holding a prime post. The party has also projected Shettar as the chief ministerial candidate.

Another name which doing the rounds was that of minister C T Ravi, again a Vokkaliga. Minister Govind Karjol was also in the reckoning some months ago. Though he may be keen on becoming the president, the party cadre was unlikely to favour him because he is still considered a “migrant.”

Keeping various factions and factors in view, Jaitley and Pradhan would have to arrive at a decision which can keep the seniors together to prepare for the elections.
The core-committee will also discuss the first list of the 150 shortlisted candidates for the Assembly polls, which includes a majority of the sitting MLAs who have remained loyal to the party.

A party functionary said this time, the BJP would accord priority to loyality rather than winning ability while allotting tickets. While the party has no option but to field new faces in the 14 constituencies wherein the sitting BJP MLAs resigned, owing allegiance to KJP’s B S Yeddyurappa, it is unlikely to provide tickets to sitting party legislators who have identified with Yeddyurappa, including ministers M P Renukacharya and Murgesh Nirani.

The  list will be whetted by the core committee on Saturday. It will be formally forwarded by the new state president to the party’s parliamentary board for clearance, sources said. The new party president will also appoint his team of office bearers and reconstitute the election committee ahead of the Assembly polls.

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