The BJP central leadership has sought a report from the Karnataka unit after rumours of a change in chief minister began doing the rounds. Sources in the BJP say that not only has the party high command strongly backed Basavaraj Bommai to continue as chief minister as the state nears elections, they also have tasked the state unit to reprimand leaders who have spoken about a ‘possible exit’ and send in a full report about those who have been spreading such theories.
Recently, former Tumkur rural MLA and BJP leader Suresh Gowda made a claim that the top leadership was contemplating replacing the chief minister. Gowda told News18 that the “chief minister may be replaced on or before Independence Day”.
He said: “Chief Minister Bommai has done good work after taking over from Yediyurappa-ji. But there are talks within the party for a leadership change, keeping in mind the upcoming elections. The party leadership may go for a change and we will abide by the decision.”
BJP leaders whom News18 spoke to said each time Union Home Minister Amit shah visits the state, it sets off speculation of political change.
“Rumours are just those — rumours. They are unfounded. Shah-ji has been asking all of us to ensure smooth administration and that the welfare schemes and government programmes that have been promised be delivered on time,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
Some leaders, however, agree that many of the senior BJP leaders have been perturbed by the string of events, including the Hijab controversy, the recent Mangaluru killings and the floods that have affected lives in the state as well as the capital city.
Officials at the chief minister’s office confirmed that Bommai is expected to start a state-wide tour after his recovery from Covid-19. The chief minister has been in isolation since August 6 and was unable to attend the Niti Aayog meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well in Delhi. In the first phase of his tour, Bommai will visit 60 assembly constituencies and interact with the district administration and people.
Amid the buzz, former chief minister Yediyurappa came to Bommai’s aid and tried to put an end to the speculation that his successor would be replaced.
“He will complete his full term and there is no question of changing the CM when there are seven to eight months left to elections,” Yediyurappa said. Interestingly, Gowda, known to be a leader close to Yediyurappa, had mentioned how the BJP high command has changed CMs even though there may have been seven or eight months left for elections.
The Congress took potshots at the BJP, saying the state should be prepared to ‘see a third Chief Minister’. The Congress handle tweeted: “40% government is likely to see a third Chief Minister.”
While there has been much curiosity over whether the BJP central leadership would change the CM, there also have been a lot of theories on who would succeed Nalin Kumar Kateel, the present state party president, whose term ends this month.
Though conventionally the state BJP president is changed at the end of their term, BJP leaders say that this time, the high command may take their time to decide who may succeed Kateel, keeping in mind the upcoming assembly elections.
“Don’t be surprised if Kateel gets an extension,” said another senior BJP leader. However, those in favour of a change in leadership have expressed their concern to Shah during his visit that there has been little or no coordination between the state unit and the government.
“The state party unit should work in tandem with the government and ensure the party’s mission and plans envisioned are materialised. Here both work in two different zones,” said another south Karnataka BJP leader.
The BJP also inaugurated its war room to help coordinate and implement the party’s mission at the district and Taluka level. Located at Malleswaram in Bengaluru, the war room — which also houses the social media cell — will work as a media co-ordination centre, call centre as well as the social media hub for the party.