BJP leaders rule out change of guard in Karnataka

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Bengaluru: With speculation in some quarters about overhaul in Karnataka BJP, including replacement of the Chief Minister, once again coming to the fore, Opposition Congress on Tuesday took a dig at Basavaraj Bommai by calling him a “Puppet CM” even as some ruling party leaders ruled out the possibility of a leadership-change.

In recent times, there has been buzz on and off within the State BJP regarding some kind of an overhaul, particularly after the visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the State.

The principal Opposition party, claiming that the ruling party is on the backfoot following overwhelming response to Congress heavyweight Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday celebrations, said, “With no face” to go for polls the BJP is attempting to install a “puppet CM” in the seat of power.

“When the State is suffering, it is power-play for the BJP. Instead of providing relief to the people suffering from floods at a warfooting, the BJP in Karnataka is looking at installing its third Chief Minister. Whenever the State is in distress, the BJP begins its powergame,” Karnataka Congress tweeted.

It looks like Bommai is “counting hours to leave the chair,” the Congress said while questioning as to whether developments linked to speculations about CM-change was due to administrative failure, fight within the BJP or is it because of B S Yediyurappa’s anger .

“Despite efforts, ‘Keshava Krupa’ (RSS State headquarters here) never accepted Bommai who is from the Janata Parivar as the Sangh Parivari. Whether this attempt to change ‘puppet CM’ Bommai is to follow your tradition of having 3CMs?” asked the Congress.

The party said that after Shah’s visit to the State recently, there is an “overcast” in the State BJP and the “puppet show” seems to have come to an end.

These comments from the Congress came a day after former BJP MLA B Suresh Gowda indicated about some change, and said the high command would take a call on replacing the Chief Minister and other matters in the interest of the party and to win the elections in future.

Bommai, who took over from Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister, completed one year in office on July 28.

The ‘3 CMs’ reference by the Congress, in its tweets, is with regard to the earlier BJP government between 2008-2013, which saw three Chief Ministers — Yediyurappa, D V Sadananada Gowda and Jagadish Shettar.

Meanwhile, hitting back at the Congress, Health Minister K Sudhakar said that the grand old party was dreaming about CM-change, and that the BJP government was stable under Bommai’s leadership.

Taking a dig at Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar, he said the two leaders were “guarding the gates” of the Gandhi (Sonia Gandhi) family with a dream to become the Chief Minister.

Chief Minister’s political secretary and MLA from Honnali M P Renukacharya said like Modi and Yediyurappa, Bommai is doing a good job, and there is no question of change.

He said Congress, rattled by factionalism and infighting, was spreading false information.

“Our immediate goal is to work for the people and help those affected by floods and rains.”

Shah, who was in the State last week, had met Bommai, Yediyurappa and senior state BJP leaders.

He is said to have discussed with them recent developments, organisational matters, allegations of corruption against the government and preparations ahead of the 2023 polls.

He is said to have specifically gathered information regarding the recent “communal” murders, including that of BJP activist Praveen Nettar in Dakshina Kannada district, that triggered widespread protests and a spate of resignations of its Yuva Morcha members at various places, accusing the State government of not standing up to protect the lives of Hindu ‘Karyakartas’.

Several Hindutva ideologues and organisations, too, have expressed their angst against the government by expressing similar views.