Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s two-day visit to Bengaluru, amid anger from within the Sangh Parivar ranks over the recent killing of a BJP youth leader, has once again triggered speculation of political change in the state.
Shah is scheduled to arrive in Bengaluru Wednesday night to attend a conference on Thursday of the Ministry of Culture and the Confederation of Indian Industries on working ‘Towards an inclusively developed India @ 100’.
Though Shah has no scheduled official meetings with Karnataka BJP leaders during his visit on Wednesday night/Thursday, he is expected to share the dais with Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai at an event of the Ministry of Culture and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
“The election Chanakya will be arriving for a two-day visit. He will be received at the airport by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. He will stay overnight in Bengaluru and attend the Sankalp se Siddhi conference with CM Bommai and others,” the Karnataka CMO said Tuesday.
The BJP government in Karnataka was forced to cancel the celebrations marking its third anniversary and Bommai’s first year in office on July 28 following the murder of a BJP youth leader on July 26 and subsequent anger among party and right-wing cadre against its own government for failing to prevent the murder.
The Bommai government has decided to hand over the case to the NIA but final orders are still pending.
On Tuesday, BJP leader and Union minister from Karnataka, Shobha Karandlaje, whose name has been in circulation for a top leadership role in Karnataka, met Shah in Delhi, ostensibly to push for augmenting a new NIA branch created in Karnataka a few months ago.
Since the July 26 murder, several frontal organisations and supporters of the BJP and PM Narendra Modi have voiced their anger against the state government and raised questions over Bommai’s leadership.
Some of the BJP supporters, such as right-wing ideologue Chakravarthy Sulibele, have spoken about how BJP MLAs have been complaining about the CM failing to clear files in his office. He has also remarked about newly imported leaders from the Congress and JD(S) enjoying the fruits of the BJP rather than party workers themselves.
Shah’s visit also coincides with the tenure of state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel drawing to a close this month. There has been widespread anger against Kateel in his home region of Dakshina Kannada where the July 26 murder of the BJP youth leader occurred and there is a strong possibility of Kateel being changed, say BJP insiders.
Earlier this year, in May, Shah visited Bengaluru and was slated to attend a core committee meeting of the party but left after visiting Bommai’s residence for a luncheon meeting with a few select leaders like B S Yediyurappa and Union minister Pralhad Joshi.
The May visit — like the scheduled visit this week — was surrounded by speculation that Shah would herald political changes in Karnataka including a possible leadership change since the party organisation secretary B L Santhosh had stated prior to the visit that the BJP has the strength to change leadership midstream and not worry about consequences.
“If political changes were the purpose of the visit, then it can be done through a telephone conversation as well and there is no need for a personal visit,” BJP sources said.
Bommai has not been given clearances to expand the state Cabinet — which has five vacancies at present — for several months now despite multiple visits to Delhi to meet the top brass of the BJP.
The Opposition has meanwhile questioned the sudden visit by Shah to Karnataka with the state elections on the horizon in early 2023.
“The BJP’s politics is built around killings during election time. In order to attain power, the BJP forces youths to leave the peace of their homes and take up Hindutva,” former CM and JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday referring to Shah’s visit.