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Monday, September 27, 2021

‘Janta Parivar dominance’ in new Karnataka Cabinet worries state BJP insiders

Concerns after 10 of 29 Cabinet members, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, are former Janta Parivar leaders

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
August 6, 2021 6:32:39 pm
Karnataka Governor Thawar Chand Gehlot and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai with newly inducted ministers during swearing-in ceremony to form the cabinet at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

“We should be proud that today’s government is a Janata Parivar government. Bommai is our friend and he has come from our (Janata) Parivar. Though he has been elected by BJP, I have a feeling that he is a Chief Minister from the Janata Parivar,” were the words of former Chief Minister and Janata Dal(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, moments after the new Karnataka Cabinet was appointed.

What may look like a jibe at the saffron camp, has also got BJP leaders and party workers talking. In the new Cabinet, 10 of the 29 members, including Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, are former Janta Parivar leaders. The others include V Somanna, Govind Karjol, Laxman Savadi, Narayana Gowda, Umesh Katti, JC Madhu Swamy, BC Patil, K Gopalaiah and KC Narayana Gowda.

With concerns that the party has “sidelined” RSS-BJP loyalists and extended a “red carpet welcome” to those from outside, party insiders have started citing their displeasure over such an apparent dominance of former Janata Parivar leaders in the Cabinet.

Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity said, “Yes, the fact that there are more leaders from the Janata Parivar in a BJP government in the state has become quite evident in the inner circles. After the Bommai Cabinet was expanded, there were messages circulated in the party groups (WhatsApp) that not only Bommai who came from the Janata Parivar, even Govind Karjol and Laxman Savadi, who were Deputy Chief Ministers in the BS Yediyurappa government, hail from the same party and have been given plum posts.”

He added, “Many in the party feel BJP and RSS loyalists are being sidelined while those who joined from other parties are being given a red-carpet welcome and big posts and responsibilities.”

Another senior BJP functionary said hardcore BJP leaders and party workers are now worried that BJP’s core principles like Hindutva, protection of the Hindu religion and nationalism may receive be affected by outsiders and people having a different political ideology but have joined the party.

“The party cadre is a bit worried, They want someone who is committed to the party and its ideology to be at the helm of affairs. They (party members) are naturally worried but hopefully the senior leaders and the high command will manage it,” he said.

Bommai, considered to be a Yediyurappa loyalist, has his origins in the Janata Parivar. His father SR Bommai was a Janata Parivar stalwart and had served as the 11th Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Bommai started his political career with the Janata Dal and was a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council twice (in 1997 and 2003) from the Dharwad constituency. He had also served as the political secretary to former Chief Minister JH Patel who was a well-known Janata Dal leader.

Bommai quit the Janata Dal (United) and joined BJP in February 2008 and in the Assembly elections held later that year, he was elected as an MLA from Shiggaon constituency in Haveri district.

Despite Bommai being in the saffron party, he has not forgotten his former roots and after taking charge as the Chief Minister, he met his political mentor, former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and sought his blessings.

After the meeting, Bommai had said that he had known Deve Gowda from the early days of his political career when his father was alive. “I started my political journey with him (Deve Gowda). I have always been on good terms with him and my mother-like Chennamma (Deve Gowda’s wife). Their blessings do matter to me,” he had said.

“Our personal relations are above political relations,” he added, while Deve Gowda’s elder son HD Revanna described Bommai as his own younger brother.

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