Next Karnataka CM: BJP leadership to spring a surprise?

Next Karnataka CM: BJP central leadership to spring a surprise?

There are various names doing the rounds, front-runners include Pralhad Joshi and C T Ravi

Credit: Reuters Photo

The BJP central leadership is playing its cards close to its chest as its succession plan for Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa remains a closely guarded secret.

Though several names are doing the rounds, two names have emerged front-runners in the race: Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, a Brahmin and BJP national general secretary CT Ravi, a Vokkaliga.

While elevation of Joshi will result in a CM from Brahmin community for the first time since 1988, the appointment of Ravi is expected to help the saffron party make further inroads into the Vokkaliga heartland of South Karnataka.

Other names doing the rounds include BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh, Assembly speaker Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri, Mines & Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani, MLA Arvind Bellad among others.

The trend of the BJP national leadership to spring a surprise while making such appointments has even left party leaders wondering about who would replace Yediyurappa.

Contributing to the suspense were the remarks by Yediyurappa’s critic, Bijapur City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal. He said Wednesday that the next CM will be a “surprise pick.”

Also read: I must accept high command’s decision: Yediyurappa tells pontiffs amid speculation of change in leadership

It is still unclear whether the central leadership will risk the backlash from Lingayat community by replacing Yediyurappa, what with influential seers threatening the party with dire consequences. Some in the party ranks insist that a Lingayat should be replaced by another Lingayat leader from North Karnataka.

“Party high command can handle any disgruntlement after the new CM is picked. What they are wary of is whether it will dent BJP’s prospects in Karnataka or whether it will help the party grow,” a source said, adding that picking a Brahmin CM could hurt BJP in regions where it is planning to expand. Choosing a Lingayat would be optimal, followed by a Vokkaliga or Dalit leader as they can help the party expand its base.

The BJP is looking for a smooth transfer of power as installing a new CM will have an effect on the 2023 polls.

Speaking to DH, political analyst Sandeep Shastri quipped that all those aspiring to be CM must be praying that “their names are not projected by the media.”

A surprise pick cannot be ruled out, as it is the USP of the current BJP leadership, Shastri said, citing the examples of the CM’s in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and other states. “Same thing is likely to happen here...Names not fancied by people will spring up,” he said.

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