In what is being seen as the first stages of strategising ahead of Assembly polls in Karnataka next year, and to take stock of the sharp communal divide in coastal Karnataka, which saw three murders between July 20 and 28, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday held a series of meetings with party leaders in Bengaluru.
Shah was here to attend an event — Sankalp ke Siddhi — organised by the Culture Ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to celebrate 75 years of Independence. The visit came at a time the BJP government in the state is on the backfoot, given a show of anger against the government and party leaders by Sangh Parivar workers in the wake of the murder of a BJYM worker in Dakshina Kannada late last month, as well as allegations of corruption in the government.
Although BJP did not officially comment on the nature of the multiple meetings Shah had with party leaders, sources indicated that they were meant to draw up strategies for next year’s elections.
Among top leaders Shah met are Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, his predecessor B S Yediyurappa, state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel, and party’s national general secretary C T Ravi.
State minister Murugesh Nirani and S A Ramdas, a ruling party MLA, also met the Union Home Minister.
Before leaving for Bengaluru on Wednesday night, Shah had met Union minister Shobha Karandlaje, who is an MP from the state, and Kateel, with whom he traveled on a private flight from New Delhi.
The BJP is also said to be considering a change in the state leadership to instill fresh energy ahead of the 2023 elections — Kateel’s term as state unit chief ended this month.
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Shah’s nearly 20-minute discussions with Yediyurappa, 79, assumes significance since the BJP stalwart has been relegated to the periphery of BJP politics in Karnataka after he quit as chief minister and was recently forced to announce his exit from electoral politics as well after failed attempts to provide his younger son, B Y Vijayendra, a spot in the big league of state politics. Any move by Yediyurappa to distance himself from the party may affect BJP’s Lingayat vote base, it is believed.
The BJP is also keen to be seen as valuing Yediyurappa’s experience as a strategist in the run-up to Assembly polls.
Besides Yediyurappa, Shah had long meetings with Bommai and Home Minister Jnanendra. Shah, sources said, was apprised about the situation in coastal Karnataka and the progress of investigation following three murders in the region between July 20 and 28.