With a few hours to go before the Lokayukta of Karnataka Justice Santhosh Hegde there is a lot of talk about a possible successor to Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa.
Although both Yeddyurappa and his supporters stand firm on the fact that he shall not be changed or will step down, some within the BJP are toying with the idea of naming a successor. Naming a successor to Yeddyurappa would not be an easy job since the man will have to be taken into confidence before any such move is made. Party sources say it is highly impossible that the high command may ask Yeddyurappa to step down and also not give him a choice in naming the successor.
Yeddyurappa’s first priority is however to save his chair and has even gone on to suggest an internal committee to probe him. Further he has also thrown open an option to dissolve the house and face the elections which the high command has said a flat no to. While Yeddyurappa will try everything to save his chair, there is already a list of candidates who are probables to the coveted post of Karnataka Chief Minister.
K S Eshwarappa- Hailing from the Kuruba community, he is an acceptable candidate to a large number of the BJP leaders in Karnataka. Although he may not be able to work his magic with the voters, the BJP would still consider him due to his loyalty. He may face a bit of an opposition from the Yeddyurappa camp, but if the high command puts its foot down, then may just sail through. What the high command is looking for is an immediate replacement to save the image of the party and the elections are not their immediate concern. The worry is not so much with the voters from the village but the middle class voters who have been demanding this change. Moreover Eshwappa has been a loyalist since several decades and his candidature is something that the high command would consider very seriously.
Dr V S Acharya– A party loyalist from the coastal belt of Karnataka, he appears to be the ideal choice for the BJP at the moment since he is also Yeddyurappa’s first choice. He enjoys a clean image and moreover has no detractors and also no enemies within the party. He has no great political ambitions and is not seen as a threat to anyone in the party. However he is not a hit with the masses and has not won an election. If Yeddyurappa manages to have his way then the high command too would not mind the candidature of Acharya as the Chief Minister as a compromise candidate.
Jagadish Shettar- He is the first choice of the Yeddyurappa rebels. His candidature may be considered on the ground that he is a lingayat leader. For the BJP the Lingayat votes are extremely crucial and if they are looking to safeguard it then Shettar would be the way to go. However Yeddyurappa may oppose his candidature as he has always said that if at all the BJP is planning on naming a Lingayat leader then there should be none other than him. Shettar not only has the backing of a large number of his party colleagues, but is also very good with the voter. Although he does not have the charisma Yeddyurappa, he still can manage to pull votes for the party. A large number within the Yeddyurappa group may accept Shettar and he is also an instant choice for the rebel group as well which makes him a good candidate for the BJP.
Shobha Karandlage- This minister is a personal favourite of Yeddyurappa. Hailing from the second most powerful community in Karnataka-the Vokkaliga community, Yeddyurappa had once said that only she can replace him. Although a capable leader and a hit among the cadres, she still would not be an acceptable candidate for the high command since she is a first timer in the cabinet. Moreover her candidature will not be acceptable to R Ashok another Vokkaliga leader since he is senior to her. Moreover she would also not be acceptable to the Reddy brothers camp since they had demanded that she be kept out of the ministry if the government in Karnataka had to be saved. Some in the party consider her to be too arrogant and hence she may not be the first choice. Yeddyurappa too today is aware of this and hence he has put her second on his list after Dr Acharya.
R Ashok- The Home Minister of Karantaka, he is the most popular Vokkaliga leader in the BJP today. He could be a likely successor since he has a very balanced equation in the party. He has not antagonised anyone including Yeddyurappa. As a vote puller through the state, the party may still have its doubts since he is popular with the city voter in Mysore and Bangalore. Will the BJP want to hurt the Lingayat vote bank and capitalize on a Vokkaliga vote bank would the question if they choose Ashok. However if the BJP intends breaking into the Vokkaliga vote bank of the JD(S) then Ashok could be the right candidate. But the fact would remain that the Vokkaliga votes would still be split unlike the Lingayat bank which is dedicated to the BJP in the state.
Suresh Kumar- The Law Minister of Karnataka, he is Yeddyurappa’s third choice after Acharya and Shobha. He would be acceptable to the RSS and also to the rest of the party. Although many swear by his honesty and commitment, the party if it thinks on a long term basis, they may not accept his candidature since he cannot be the face of the party during an election.
Ananth Kumar- He is a candidate in the running for the post ever since the BJP won the election. Although he is capable of making the right noises in New Delhi with the high command, he is one candidate Yeddyurappa will oppose tooth and nail. The rivalry between the two is not something that is hidden. While Kumar a flamboyant leader may be acceptable to many in the rebel camp, the danger is that Yeddyurappa will go out of his way to split the party if Kumar is chosen as his successor. While Kumar is ambitious and would want the post of Karnataka CM, he may not be able to make it if Yeddyurappa has a say in naming his successor. He is a senior in the party and is capable of pulling votes for the party in the cities, but his biggest problem will be the opposition from the entire Yeddyurappa camp if named successor.