Karnataka chief minister Sadananda Gowda on Sunday submitted his resignation to BJPpresident Nitin Gadkari, after the party caved in to the mounting pressure from the powerful Lingayat leader,BS Yeddyurappa.
Gowda is likely to formally submit his resignation to governor HR Bhardwaj by Wednesday, paving the way for the elevation of Yeddyurappa's new nominee - rural development minister Jagadish Shettar, who belongs to the electorally significant Lingayat community - ahead of the assembly polls due next year.
Shettar will be the third chief minister in the state since 2008, when BJP formed its first government in a southern state. Gowda, a Vokkaliga leader, is set to be replaced less than a year after Yeddyurappa picked him for the job when he was forced to quit after being indicted by the Lokayukta in an illegal mining case.
Yeddyurappa had been piling pressure over the past 11 months on BJP to make Shettar, his rival-turned-loyalist, the chief minister after he realised that he stood no chance of being reinstated as long as he was being interrogated in the mining case. BJP's state legislature party is likely to meet on Monday in Bangalore to ratify the leadership change.
"In the present situation in Karnataka, he has requested me to accept his resignation," BJP president Nitin Gadkari said in Delhi after a meeting with Gowda, announcing that the resignation had been accepted and that Shettar would be handed over the reins.
"There were no complaints against him on grounds of corruption, but keeping the party's interest in mind as a good party worker he has resigned in the interest of the organisation," said Gadkari, adding that Gowda did a good job as chief minister.
According to BJP leaders, who did not wish to be named, the party is considering appointing at least one deputy CM, a post that could be given to a leader from the Vokkaliga community. Gowda would be offered an RS seat, they added.
However, Gowda is understood to be keen on the state party chief's post. "I have whole-heartedly accepted the central leadership's verdict. I will be a loyal worker of the party," Gowda said, after his meeting with Gadkari.
Congress dubbed BJP's move as a cosmetic change which would not bring in any substantial improvement in governance. "Change of guard in Karnataka is victory for corruption," said Congress general secretary BK Hariprasad.