Shettar to be sworn in as new Karna CM on July 12

Bangalore: Jagadish Shettar will be the new Chief Minister of Karnataka–the third in four years–and will be sworn in on Thursday after he was elected leader of ruling BJP legislature party today amid high drama over demands from warring factions before the change of guard.

The election of the 56-year-old Lingayat leader, which defused yet another crisis that gripped BJP`s first government in south India, came after some last minute muscle flexing by the outgoing Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda`s camp that delayed the legislature party meeting by at least five hours.

The term of the BJP government is due to end in May 2013. Gowda proposed the name of Shettar, currently Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister, and it was seconded by former Chief Minister and Lingayat strongman B S Yeddyurappa and state unit chief K S Eshwarappa. Shettar will meet Governor H R Bhardwaj tomorrow to inform him about his election as legislature party leader and stake his claim to form the government.

BJP leader Rajnath Singh, the central observer for the election, said Shettar would be sworn in on July 12. "All the 121 BJP legislators unanimously elected me as Legislature party leader. This is very important," the soft spoken Shettar said after his election. Shettar said the new government`s priority will be to tackle the drought situation.

As lobbying for Cabinet berths and key ministries gained momentum, ugly factional squabbles were at play again ahead of the meeting as Gowda and his loyalists demanded an assurance from the leadership that the state unit party presidentship would be given to him and deputy Chief Ministership to Eshwarappa.

Gowda and about 50 legislators supporting him met at his official residence "Anugraha" this morning where they decided to stay away from the legislature party meeting scheduled for 1030 hours until an assurance was given to them.

Legislators loyal to Yeddyurappa, whose campaign forced a change of guard in the state, arrived at the meeting venue and waited till Gowda and his men attended it. Gowda, Eshwarappa and others met Rajnath Singh to put forth their demands and later came to a star hotel where the Legislature party meeting was held.