Shettar quits as Speaker, set to join govt with plum portfolio

Senior BJP leader Jagadish Shettar on Monday quit as the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in anticipation of his induction as a minister into the B S Yeddyurappa government. He is expected to get a plum portfolio, and according to some indications, that could be Mines and Geology, currently held by the Chief Minister himself.

Shettar, who was a central figure in the recent rebellion against Yeddyurappa's leadership, is to be sworn in as a minister on Tuesday afternoon.

Another portfolio being considered for Shettar is Rural Development, which was held by Yeddyurappa confidante Shobha Karandlaje, who had to quit as part of a solution to the recent rebellion.

As he handed his resignation to Deputy Speaker K G Bopaiah on Monday, Shettar was accompanied by Janardhan Reddy, one of the Reddy brothers from Bellary who led the revolt against Yeddyurappa. He refused to talk politics till his induction into the ministry.

The entry of Shettar is seen as the fulfillment of another of several conditions imposed on Yeddyurappa by the rebels in order to sign a truce.

A member of the powerful Lingayat community like Yeddyurappa himself, Shettar was projected as the replacement chief minister candidate by the rebels at the height of a 14-day stand-off for a change in leadership in Karnataka.

Shettar is also expected to be a key part of the special coordination committee to be formed shortly by the BJP, to enable balancing of various interests in the state government. Shettar, who enjoys a sizable following in the Hubli-Dharwad belt, is expected to have a large number of his supporters in Bangalore for the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday afternoon.

Ahead of Shettar's induction, Yeddyurappa stated in his home district of Shimoga that he differences in the government had been set aside and that focus had returned to relief work in the flood-hit parts of north Karnataka.

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