The fact that the BJP central leadership has been replacing chief ministers in an election year – as recently as Tripura CM Biplab Deb having to make way for Manik Saha two days ago and similar moves in Uttarakhand, Gujarat earlier – has also added to the discomfort in Karnataka BJP circles.
Bommai, who came to office after his 75-year-plus predecessor BS Yedyurrappa (BSY) had to step down a year ago, to make way for a younger leader to take charge, has been caught between factions within the party – led by veteran BSY on one end and central party general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh, who hails from the state, on some other senior leaders in the state fishing in the muddy waters.
While speculation on a reshuffle in the Bommai cabinet doing the rounds in the state, to prepare for next year’s polls, the party has to nominate four names for upcoming MLC polls and for four Rajya Sabha seats from the state for next month. Caught in the pulls and pressures working from both the factional ends, Bommai seems to be looking at the central leadership to bail him out, say party insiders, “when he has the prerogative to take his own call and assert himself,” say party insiders.
For instance, BSY has been pushing for his son B Y Vijayendra for an MLC seat, according party sources. But Bommai, it is learnt, is wary that the son may use the veteran Lingayat leader’s stature in the state, to turn himself into a second power centre in the government, if made a minister. Being a Lingayat himself, Bommai is unlikely to upset BSY on the other hand, in a poll year.
Santhosh played his part in creating a flutter murmurs that Bommai may be changed came to the fore after following his address at a party meeting in Mysuru recently. He said changes become necessary to infuse freshness. This plunged the state BJP into confusion as party circles began speculating of a Gujarat-like “wholesale” change, including a new chief minister. Interestingly, Santhosh’s statement came just days before Amit Shah’s arrival in Bengaluru, on his second visit in about a month, essentially to douse the factional fire.