The BJP top brass has shortlisted a few names to replace 78-year-old Lingayat strongman and chief minister BS Yediyurappa after he resigned on Monday, sources said. The names have been decided keeping in mind 2023 Karnataka assembly elections.
A Times of India report quoted its sources as saying that the BJP has shortlisted eight persons for the post and added that most likely a Lingayat will be picked to take forward the legacy of Yediyurappa in the state. “Dharwad West MLA Aravind Bellad, Vijayapura MLA Basannagouda Patil Yatnal, Karnataka Mines and Geology Minister Murgesh R Nirani and Basavaraj Bommai may get a chance as they belong to Panchamasali Lingayat community," TOI reported.
It is believed that Yatnal has strong RSS roots and his experience as union minister may benefit him. In fact, he is said to be 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to reports, Yediyurappa is likely to name state home minister Basavaraj Bommai if asked to suggest his successor for CM post. Other names such as Pralhad Joshi, BL Santosh, CN Ashwath Narayan, Laxman Savadi, Govind Karjol, Visveshwara Hegde Kageri and CT Ravi are also being taken into consideration.
Denying that he was lobbying to replace Yediyurappa, Nirani said he will abide by any decision taken by the BJP central leadership. Addressing reporters, Nirani said he was an ordinary BJP functionary and it was his duty to follow the party’s diktat.
“There has been no instruction for replacing Chief Minister Yediyurappa.He is still our leader and we all are with him. The BJP top brass will take a decision on the CM post and we have to abide by it," the minister said. Nirani, who visited Delhi about a fortnight ago and termed his visit ‘successful’, reiterated his support to Yediyurappa.
Meanwhile, several seers of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community on Friday decided to organise religious heads convention on July 25 in what is seen as sending out a loud and clear message to BJP party high command not to remove Yediyurappa.
This convention is seen as a last ditch effort to save Yediyurappa from possible resigning after July 26. Yediyurappa had maintained that he has not received any message from party high command till date but he was in anticipation of their message on July 25 evening, and until then he would be performing his duty.