At least two senior leaders have expressed unhappiness at the expectation of Bommai leading the party in the 2023 Assembly elections.

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai garlanding Union Home Minister Amit ShahPTI
news Politics Thursday, September 09, 2021 - 13:48

The squabble in Karnataka BJP has gotten a new lease of life with Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statements endorsing Basavaraj Bommai as the leader of the party for the next election. During his visit to Karnataka on September 6, Shah said that the BJP has grown in strength under the Chief Ministership of Bommai and that the elections too will be fought under him. While it has been widely reported that this has led to another round of belligerence, senior leaders in the party tell TNM that not too much should be read into the statement and it should be treated as routine.

Referring to a similar statement made by Amit Shah when he visited the state earlier in the year where he had praised the then CM Yediyurappa, a source said that this too is a ‘politically correct’ statement and should not be seen too much as an indication of things to come. “Amit Shah had made several statements even in June this year that Yediyurappa will continue as CM and that he will complete his term. One should understand that he cannot be seen undermining a sitting CM of his own party. But a lot of things take place behind curtains that cannot be revealed in public,” the source said.

“We cannot have a repeat of what happened during Yediyurappa’s Chief Ministership. If a strong message is not sent to troublemakers in the party, many of whom are seniors and hope to be the next face of the party in Karnataka, then they will start undermining this CM too. Then the BJP high command too will look weak. This way, he is giving legitimacy to Bommai as the CM,” the source added, explaining the reasons for Shah’s statements in his first visit after the appointment of the new CM.

BJP spokesperson S Prakash said, “The central leadership has felt that Bommai will be able to steer the party for an electoral success in 2023 so Amit Shah has just expressed it. All 224 legislators can aspire to be a CM but once the leadership has made an announcement, I am sure all the other leaders will join hands now”.

In the last few days, at least two senior leaders, KS Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar, have expressed unhappiness at the expectation of Bommai leading the party in the 2023 Assembly elections. They insisted on ‘collective leadership’ hoping to not be overshadowed. But a senior leader of BJP Karnataka told TNM that if any of them stood a chance at leadership, it would have happened by now. “Leaders who are insecure are making a fuss. If they stood any chance of being the party’s face for elections, they would have been made CM now. There would have been no need for a stop-gap at all,” the leader said.

Senior journalist and columnist Naheed Ataulla also saw Shah’s statement as an attempt to give this government stability. “Bommai is being seen as a weak CM by a few in the party so Amit Shah might have made the statement to give him a push. If Yediyurappa leads the party again, the Congress will make an issue of corruption. Bommai is not seen by BJP leaders as a mass leader who can help others win their constituency. So he cannot lead the party single-handedly,” she said speaking to TNM.

Naheed added that she believes that closer to elections, the BJP will bring Yediyurappa back to the fore to help them win elections. And Yediyurappa too will look to benefit from this dependence on him as their biggest vote catcher. “Yediyurappa also needs to stay relevant. So Yediyurappa will also look to consolidate his position  and keep in touch with the voters. People will forget him if he sits quiet for two years,”she adds.

There is a large section within Karnataka BJP which believes that Amit Shah could have stopped at giving Bommai a vote of confidence as the current CM and there was no need to announce his leadership for the elections. “The comment was unwarranted. It would have sufficed to say that Bommai is doing well as the CM. Elections are too far ahead still and this will only create more bad blood in the party now”, a leader told TNM.

Read: Why Tamil Nadu is the only south state that doesn’t live telecast Assembly proceedings

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