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Exercise to select new Karnataka BJP chief begins

Exercise to select new Karnataka BJP chief beginsBangalore, March 9 : BJP leader Arun Jaitley Saturday began meetings with senior party leaders in Karnataka to select a new head for the state unit following incumbent K. S. Eshwarappa's resignation.

Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and the the state unit leaders are expected to finalise the name of Eshwarappa's successor Saturday but announcement will come in two to three days' time. Eshwarappa quit Thursday.

Jaitley is being assisted by BJP general secretary and Karnataka party affairs in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan. The two arrived here late Friday.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told reporters Friday that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh would announce the name of Eshwarappa's successor in two or three days after Jaitley briefed him about the discussions with state leaders.

Apart from the ability to lead the state unit, factors such as caste and region are likely to play major roles in choosing the new party head.

These factors have assumed greater weightage now as assembly elections due in May and prospects of the BJP retaining power in the state it won for the first time in May 2008 look bleak in view of scandals and dissidence.

Eshwarappa, who is also the deputy chief minister handling revenue portfolio, announced his resignation from the party chief's post soon after voting ended for 208 urban local bodies in the state Thursday.

Though his three-year term ended in January, the timing of the announcement came as a surprise as the party had given indications that he would remain in office till after assembly elections due in May.

At least five names are making rounds in BJP circles to succeed Eshwarappa.

The five are former party chief and former chief minister D. V. Sadananda Gowda, Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, Minor Irrigation Minister Govind Karjol and Lok Sabha members Pralhad Joshi and Nalin Kumar Kateel.

The new state BJP president will be the party's third chief after it came to power in the state.

Eshwarappa succeeded Sadananda Gowda in January 2010.

Incidentally, Shettar is the party's third chief minister. He took over from Sadananda Gowda in July last year. Gowda succeeded B. S. Yeddyurappa in August 2011 after he was forced quit as chief minister over mining bribery charges.(IANS)