BENGALURU: The BJP brass seems to have a tough task on hand in Karnataka — finding an acceptable successor to 78-year-old Lingayat strongman and CM BS Yediyurappa if they decide to replace him.
Yediyurappa completes two years in office on July 26 in his fourth innings as CM and there are indications he may be asked to resign. Party sources said the central leadership has shortlisted a dozen names with the 2023 assembly polls in mind. Karnataka is significant since it is BJP’s gateway to the south.
Sources said BJP has zeroed in on eight persons and it appears a Lingayat will take forward Yediyurappa’s legacy. Dharwad West MLA Aravind Bellad, Vijayapura MLA Basannagouda Patil Yatnal, mines and geology minister Murgesh R Nirani and Basavaraj Bommai stand a chance as they’re from Panchamasali Lingayat community.
Yatnal’s strong RSS roots and experience as Union minister may come in handy. He is popular in north Karnataka and was at the forefront of the agitation earlier this year by Panchamsali Lingayats seeking quota for the backward caste group. He was reportedly handpicked by PM Modi.
Bellad, 50, an engineer and businessman from Dharwad, is a low-profile politician with a clean image. Sugar baron Niran, a third-time MLA from Bilgi in Bagalkot, is said to have a good personal equation with Union home minister Amit Shah. If Yediyurappa is asked to suggest a successor, he may name home minister Basavaraj Bommai. Non-Lingayat names in the mix include Union minister Pralhad Joshi and CT Ravi. If Karnataka BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel’s purported audio leak is anything to go by, Joshi could be top of the list.
Other names doing the rounds are BL Santosh, CN Ashwath Narayan, Laxman Savadi, Govind Karjol and Visveshwara Hegde Kageri.