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Amit Shah comes, he sees, he cancels; Basavaraj Bommai gets another breather

Cancelled meetings indicate consensus not reached on change of leadership; BSY, others back Bommai

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 4, 2022 7:58:21 pm
Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, during a programme, in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

A visit to Bengaluru on Tuesday by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, which was expected to provide an indication regarding the BJP’s strategy for the 2023 Assembly polls, did not yield any outcome, with meetings scheduled for him with the state BJP core committee and party leaders cancelled.

Shah arrived in Bengaluru on Monday night, amid speculation that this could finally lead to a change of Chief Minister and the state Cabinet, which has been speculated upon for long.

The senior BJP leader was scheduled to attend a lunch hosted by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for BJP ministers, MLAs and MPs at his residence, and chair separate meetings of the BJP state core committee, party functionaries and various party units.

The meetings were scheduled to spell out strategies for the 2023 Assembly polls and indicate the possible changes in government. But after the lunch at Bommai’s official residence, the meetings with the party units were abruptly cancelled.

BJP sources said the cancellation suggested that a consensus could not be reached on a leadership change in Karnataka. Several BJP leaders, including former CM B S Yediyurappa, party state in-charge Arun Singh and state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, incidentally stated on Tuesday that there would be no change of CM in Karnataka. Yediyurappa added that there might be changes in the state Cabinet though in a few days.

For days now, there has been speculation – also fuelled from within BJP ranks — that the BJP will go in for a complete change of the Cabinet in Karnataka, like it had done in Gujarat.

On Saturday, senior BJP leader and organisation secretary B L Santhosh told a party meeting that the BJP has the strength to execute “big changes in party and government structures”, seen as a suggestion that Bommai and his Cabinet were on their way out.

But on Monday, Yediyurappa said that Bommai, who is believed to have been handpicked by him as his successor, was doing a good job as CM. On Tuesday, he said talk of Bommai being replaced was “mostly rumors”. “My feeling is that Amit Shah has come on the visit with some decisions in mind. I feel that changes will be carried out in the Cabinet in two or three days,” the former CM said.

“These are hypothetical questions, there is no answer,” Arun Singh said on the question of a change of CM. He reiterated his assertion that “Basavaraj Bommai is a common man working for the poor and farmers, under the Prime Minister”.

Kateel said a few people had created the illusion that the CM could be changed.

The BJP government in the state has come under a lot of pressure in the past few weeks on account of a slew of corruption charges against the Bommai government, and the perception that it is inefficient. A section of party leaders are of the view that Bommai’s continuance has become untenable.

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However, Tuesday’s developments are an indication that the BJP lacks viable alternatives to replace Bommai. The party may opt for a status quo till the next polls, some leaders said.

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