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The BJP top brass, which has kept its cards close to its chest about the successor of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who resigned on Monday, may spring a surprise in the state.

Though several names are doing the rounds, two names have emerged front-runners in the race: Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, a Brahmin and BJP national general secretary CT Ravi, a Vokkaliga. While elevation of Joshi will result in a CM from Brahmin community for the first time since 1988, Ravi’s appointment will help the party expand its footprint in southern Karnataka.

The BJP has already played a gamble by ousting Yediyurappa, a Lingayat strongman, and though there are murmurs that a Lingayat should replace him, the possibility seems narrow.

Union minister Pralhad Joshi on Saturday said no one has spoken to him about the change and he was not aware that BS Yediyurappa has been asked to resign or not. Emphasising that he does not answer hypothetical questions with ifs and buts, Joshi said, “There is no high command in the BJP but national leadership. We got different leaderships from time to time. There was Rajnath Singh, after which Nitin Gadkari came, who was succeeded by Amit Shah and now J P Nadda is there. In the present situation, we have supreme leaders in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. They will decide.”

Joshi has been the MP of Dharwad, a city in northwest Karnataka, since 2004. He had also served as the BJP’s state unit president from July 2012 to January 2016.

If elevated, Joshi will be the third politician from Hubballi, after SR Bommai and Jagdish Shettar to assume the role.

Umesh Dushi, a BJP leader, was quoted as saying by Times of India that Joshi’s community has about 85,000 votes in the constituency, but his victory margin was over 2 lakh in the 2019 election. He also added that the local unit of the party does not still know if Joshi will be made the CM.

Joshi maintains good rapport with other party leaders in Hubballi-Dharwad and Karnataka as well. Former Congress MP Prof IG Sanadi said that as Joshi is trained by late HN Anant Kumar, and is now close to the Prime Minister, he may be chosen for the CM’s post due to his “commitment and dedication” to the party.

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