Sadananda Gowda quits as chief minister, says he prays for replacement Jagadish Shettar

Sadananda Gowda quits as chief minister, says he prays for replacement Jagadish Shettar
Bangalore:  Eleven months ago, when BS Yeddyurappa was finally forced to step down as Chief Minister of Karnataka following corruption charges, he made sure it was a day to remember. He walked with his supporters from his residence all the way to Raj Bhavan. And - in an unplanned dramatic touch - the skies opened and rained poured down as he went in to meet the Governor.

Drama and the Karnataka unit of the BJP are never far apart. Today, it was Sadananda Gowda's turn to step down - forced out by Mr Yeddyurappa who had waged a campaign against the man he had himself chosen as a replacement. Gowda had fought the pressure for months - and even yesterday - he held up what was meant to be a formal selection process of Jagadish Shettar by his fellow MLAs. The Gowda group was holding out for deputy chief minister posts, plum cabinet portfolios and possibly the state party president's post for Mr Gowda - a plum position as the state heads in for an election. Hours later, some kind of agreement was reached and this morning, Mr Gowda was setting out from his official house to resign.

But protestors from Gowda's community - Vokkaligas - continued the protests they have been holding since it was decided he had to go. They gathered at the house and made it difficult for him to leave, even rolling on the ground in protest. Police cleared up the protesters - both here and again at Raj Bhavan - and Mr Gowda was finally able to give in his resignation to Governor HR Bharadwaj shortly before noon.

But it isn't over. Negotiations are still on for possible deputy chief ministers posts - and the wrangling over cabinet berths is likely to take some time. And with talk of a committee overseeing Jagadish Shettar's actions - including Mr Yeddyurappa, Mr Gowda, Ananth Kumar and Mr Eswharappa - it looks as if Mr Shettar will be kept on a short rein.  Sadananda Gowda wryly said as he spoke to media persons after submitting his resignation: "I pray that God gives Jagadish Shettar the strength to fight the problems within the BJP. And that the party goes united into the elections."

A fair warning, indeed.

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