Mr Shettar's election came minutes after the main protagonists of this drama were seen entering a meeting of party MLAs on Tuesday evening, almost six hours after they were scheduled to. Their smiles suggested that a resolution acceptable to all sides had been found. Sadananda Gowda, whom Mr Shettar replaces, was the last man to walk in.
Mr Gowda will resign formally as chief minister on Wednesday and Mr Shettar will be sworn in as Karnataka's third chief minister in four years on Thursday, July 12. No deputy chief minister has been named yet; this is reportedly one of the demands made by the Gowda camp.
At the meeting, Mr Shettar's name for leader of the BJP legislature party was proposed by Mr Gowda and seconded by state party president KS Eshwarappa, who too is a Gowda supporter. Mr Shettar, in his thanksgiving, noted that all 121 MLAs had unanimously elected him.
That unanimity came after hours of hard negotiation by the Gowda camp today for key posts in what is seen as the BS Yeddyurappa-controlled new Shettar regime. Sources say the Gowda group wants the post of party president for Mr Gowda, and are said to be pushing for two deputy chief ministers in R Ashok, a Vokkaliga like Mr Gowda, and Mr Eshwarappa, who is a Kuruba.
The Yeddyurappa camp is reportedly not keen on a deputy chief minister; it has also reportedly suggested that if at all a Vokkaliga leader needs to be deputy chief minister then why not minister for Power Shobha Karandlaje, who is considered close to Mr Yeddyurappa.
A team that will include Mr Shettar, Mr Gowda, Mr Eshwarappa and senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar, will head to Delhi tomorrow to hold further talks. Mr Shettar said he would make all appointments in consultation with state and central party leaders.
In the morning, the Yeddyurappa camp duly arrived at the venue, but about 50 MLAs loyal to Mr Gowda did not turn up. They were meeting at Mr Gowda's residence instead. They then met senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, sent as observers from Delhi and made their demands.
The BJP is trying hard to balance caste and community aspirations as it prepares for Assembly elections less than 10 months away. In Mr Shettar it is giving the state a chief minister from the powerful Lingayat community. But it cannot afford to alienate Mr Gowda's influential community, the Vokkaligas, either. The Vokkaligas are upset that he has had to make way for Mr Shettar. There have been protests in the state since he resigned and the community has said they are observing today as a "black today.
The party announced on Sunday that Mr Gowda had resigned in the interest of the party and that Mr Shettar would be the new chief minister. This after Mr Yeddyurappa's camp pressed for months to have Mr Gowda removed, demanding that a Lingayat leader, specifically Mr Shettar, be made chief minister instead.
Last year, when Mr Yeddyurappa was forced to step down as chief minister after being indicted by the state ombudsman or Lokayukta in cases of illegal mining, Mr Shettar had shown interest in taking his place. But the powerful Mr Yeddyurappa had scuttled that move and insisted that Mr Gowda be made chief minister instead. The two then fell out and Mr Shettar became Mr Yeddyurappa's chosen one.
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