Bangalore: Ousted CM B S Yeddyurappa loyalist and sitting MP D V Sadananda Gowda will be the new Chief Minister of Karnataka after he was elected BJP Legislature party leader on Wednesday defeating Jagadish Shettar of the rival camp in a bitterly fought secret ballot.

58-year-old Gowda, Lok Sabha MP from Udupi-Chikmagalur, will be sworn-in tomorrow to become BJP's second Chief Minister in Karnataka after it formed the first government in South in May 2008.

After his election which was seen as a victory for the outgoing Chief Minister's camp, Gowda met Governor H R Bhardwaj and staked his claim to form the government.

A Raj Bhavan communique this evening said the Governor has invited Gowda to form the government.

The swearing-in is scheduled for 1630 hrs on Thursday, Raj Bhavan sources said.

The sources would not say whether Gowda will be taking the oath alone or will be joined by more ministers.

Gowda decided to advance his swearing-in by a day in view of the three-day visit to the city by President Pratibha Patil from August five, sources said.

As BJP Central leaders' efforts at bringing about a consensus on Yeddyurappa's successor came to a nought, the rival camps forced a showdown leading to the secret ballot, reflecting the deep intra-party divisions.

Conflicting figures emerged from the party with some saying 65 MLAs supported Gowda and 51 for Shettar, while a few others maintained its 64-53 and also 64-54, but there was no dispute that Gowda got 60-plus votes and Shettar 50-plus.

After the election by a secret ballot, Gowda was 'unanimously' chosen as the leader of the BJP Legislature Party, according to Yeddyurappa camp leaders.

Gowda, a softspoken former state BJP chief who is from the RSS stable, enjoys a clean image and belongs to the Vokkaliga community, the second largest after the Lingayats to which section Yeddyurappa belongs.

Shettar, a Lingayat community, is backed by the group led by BJP National General Secretary and Yeddyurappa's arch rival H N Ananth Kumar and state party chief K S Eshwarappa. There is speculation that Shettar is tipped to become Deputy Chief Minister. (Gowda, former chief of the state party unit and who has his origins in the Sangh Parivar, has been an ardent supporter of Yeddyurappa and had backed him to the hilt in the last two years when the chief minister faced rebellion by ministers and Reddy brothers, who are mining magnates.

The election by secret ballot came after central emissaries--Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and M Venkaiah Naidu--failed to evolve a consensus to select Yeddyurappa's successor.

The election brought out sharp divisions in BJP's state unit with Yeddyurappa aggressively pushing for Gowda's candidature after being asked to step down as Chief Minister following his indictment in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining. Yeddyurappa resigned on Sunday setting of an intense power struggle in Karnataka.

An affable and non-controversial figure, Gowda has also served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly.

The party's central leadership tried its best to build consensus on who should succeed Yeddyurappa but there was no unanimity leaving them with no choice but to go in for voting.

Gowda, solidly backed by Yeddyurappa's camp, emerged the winner, beating back the challenge from Shettar, who was promoted by the rival side, spearheaded by senior party leader H N Ananth Kumar and state party chief K S Eshwarappa.

Gowda's election was seen as a victory for Yeddyurappa, who seemed to have won the numbers game and was determined to see that Shettar, who comes from the Lingayat community to which he also belongs, does not take the top post.

Shortly after his election, Gowda drove to Raj Bhavan and handed over to Governor Bhardwaj, the resolution of the legislature party electing him as the new leader following which he was appointed Chief Minister and invited to form the government.

Rajnath Singh expressed confidence there will be "stability and good governance" in Karnataka under Gowda's leadership.

"There will be stability and I have full faith that under the leadership of Gowda, Karnataka government will give good governance to the people of the state," Singh said.

(Agencies)