Gowda resigns, supporters seek to prevent him

Bangalore: Ending his 11-month tenure, D V Sadananda Gowda today resigned as Karnataka Chief Minister, paving the way for Jagadish Shettar to take over, but not before dramatic scenes were witnessed with his supporters trying to physically prevent him from stepping down.

Accompanied by some Ministers, Gowda met Governor H R Bhardwaj at Raj Bhavan and submitted his resignation.He informed him about the election of Shettar as leader of the BJP Legislature party at its meeting here yesterday.

Earlier as he set out from his residence "Anugraha", his supporters, raising slogans, made a forceful bid to prevent him from submitting his resignation.

They demanded that he continue in office. Some of them also squatted on the road to block his car. Police used force to evict them. Gowda sought to pacify them and later left the residence but said he would tender his resignation.

Gowda`s supporters had also gathered outside Raj Bhavan, but the police intervened to clear the way for him.

Chief Minister-designate Shettar also met the Governor and staked claim to form the Government.He is scheduled to be sworn in as Chief Minister tomorrow.

Speaking to reporters at his residence, Gowda said he had faith in the party`s central leadership and that they would meet the demands of his supporters. Gowda also said his supporters should cooperate with him and should not be disappointed by his submitting resignation.

With the Vokkaliga-Lingayat caste equations holding sway, Shettar`s election as BJP Legislature party leader yesterday came after last minute muscle flexing by MLAs loyal to Gowda who initially refused to attend the meeting unless their demands were met.

They demanded an assurance from the leadership that the state unit party presidentship would be given to him and Deputy Chief Ministership to state unit chief K S Eshwarappa and at least 20 ministerial berths.

The BJP leadership had on Sunday opted for a change in leadership in Karnataka and got Gowda to quit to be replaced by Jagadish Shettar, caving in to pressure from former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa who wanted a fellow Lingayat in the saddle.

"I wish good luck to Chief-Minister-designate Jagadish Shettar and his new ministerial team and pray that God gives him strength to solve the problems afflicting the state government," Gowda said.

After submitting his resignation, Gowda told reporters he prayed to God for unity in the party.
Replying to a question, Gowda said in coming days he would work for the welfare of the state in whatever role the party wants him. Asked whether he is expecting State BJP President`s post, Gowda said nobody has proposed his name for it.

Gowda also thanked BJP central and state leaders, his cabinet colleagues, legislators, opposition members, among others, who supported him to carry out his duties as the Chief Minister in the last eleven months.