An announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the BJP will fight the next Assembly elections in Karnataka under the leadership of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has not gone down too well with senior leaders in the Karnataka BJP, and a few veterans have suggested that polls will be fought under a collective leadership.
The minister’s endorsement of Bommai – a relatively new entrant to the BJP – has come at a time when veteran leader B S Yediyurappa has expressed keenness to travel around the state to build the BJP’s prospects for the 2023 polls. However, the former CM is yet to get a green signal from the BJP leadership to travel across the state on behalf of the party.
While Yediyurappa has not responded to Shah’s remarks, BJP veterans such as former deputy CM K S Eshwarappa and former CM Jagadish Shettar have made statements.
Rural development and panchayat raj minister K S Eshwarappa, who is often credited for building the BJP in Karnataka along with Yediyurappa and the late union minister H N Ananth Kumar, said “we are in favour of collective leadership”. “Bommai will be a part of that. The state president Nalin Kumar Kateel is building the party. We are all working together.”
Shettar, who opted out of the Bommai cabinet saying he is too senior to work under the current CM, has stated that the elections are many months away. “Look, the elections are still far away. We have to see what happens when the election comes,” he said.
Union minister Pralhad Joshi has said that all senior leaders will be consulted by the BJP for all major decisions. “No senior leader has expressed discontent on the party platform,” Joshi said about ostensible disappointment among party veterans over Shah’s endorsement.
There is speculation about the possible appointment of a new BJP state president by the end of the year to consolidate the party base.
Sensing the confusion over leadership, former Congress minister M B Patil – seen as a possible Congress alternative to Yediyurappa by the dominant Lingayat community in the state – issued a statement last week on his role in the agitation for declaration of Lingayats and Veerashaivas as a minority religion.