Basavaraj Bommai Faces Dissent and BJP Cadre Anger: Karnataka CM's Bumpy Ride
Several BJP leaders including Yediyurappa have extended support to Bommai and have rubbished replacement talks.
The BJP leadership in Karnataka is once again being brought to question, with the opposition accusing Basavaraj Bommai of being a puppet chief minister and with few leaders within the BJP hinting at a political change of guard.
Criticising Bommai over his silence on multiple scams, repeated attacks on minority groups, the Congress and JD(S) have called him 'Gombe Bommai', which translates to 'Puppet Bommai', accusing him of being 'handled' by right-wing Hindutva groups. The opposition also took a jibe at him for failing to celebrate Janotsava—the first-anniversary as chief minister of Karnataka.
In response, several ministers and legislators of the BJP have backed Basavaraj Bommai and have affirmed that he would continue as the chief minister.
But, all is not well for Bommai, as he completes one year being at the helm of affairs. Political experts suggest that he is struggling to recover from the wrath of his own party cadre following the killing of Praveen Nettaru and repeated accusations of corruption against his colleagues in the government.
Home Minister Amit Shah Asked CM Bommai To Prove Mettle Yet Again
Union home minister Amit Shah, who was in Bengaluru to attend a conference of the ministry of culture and the Confederation of the Indian Industries (CII) called 'Sankalp Se Siddhi', also held meetings with chief minister Bommai and state home minister Araga Jnanendra.
This is the second time that the union home minister is pulling up chief minister Bommai and advising him to concentrate on development. Earlier, in April 2022 as well, the BJP's top brass had advised CM Bommai to focus on implementation of the budget and avoid getting embroiled in communal politics in the state.
Sources close to the chief minister told The Quint said, "The union home minister pulled up Bommai and Jnanendra for the prevailing law and order situation in the state. He has asked the CM to prove his mettle and ensure that he takes stringent action against those accused."
The recent outpour of anger over the killing Praveen Nettaru and the following state-wide protests against the BJP and the mass resignation of BJP Yuva Morcha members has been a setback for the BJP a year before the assembly elections.
Statements by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya and former Karnataka minister for Panchayat Raj and Rural Development KS Eshwarappa further stoked the sentiments of the cadre. In an interview to one of the regional media houses, MP Surya remarked," I am also outraged just like you. If it was the Congress government, we could’ve pelted stones. But, how is it possible to protect every common man in the state."
The source also told The Quint, that minister Amit Shah expressed displeasure and anger over BJP leaders making statements that undermined the spirit of the party cadre and grassroots workers.
The party recognises the outpour of anger (on the part of BJP cadres) and empathises with their actions following the death of Praveen Nettaru. But the sentiment that is being attached to the cadre by the opposition, terming it a revolt is unfounded. On the contrary, the situation has been handled and communal tensions have been contained. Bommai will continue as CM and BJP will fight the election under his leadership.Capt Ganesh Karnik (Retd), BJP Spokesperson
The Bommai administration is also in damage control mode thanks to BJP leaders making political statements unfavourable to the current dispensation.
In a recent interview, Suresh Gowda, former MLA from Tumakuru constituency and a close aide of Shobha Karandlaje, minister of state, agriculture and farmers welfare, said that there could be changes in the leadership before 15 August, 2022.
Another senior leader from Belagavi, Umesh Katti too expressed his wish to be the chief minister on 10 August, 2022, in Bengaluru.
During a media interaction in Bengaluru he said, "I am an aspirant to become the chief minister as well. I have said this repeatedly. I still have 15 years left, as I am 60 now. If it is in my fate, I could be the CM tomorrow, or I could be made the leader when I am 75."
Speaking of the pressure that chief minister Basavaraj Bommai is facing, a politician who is close to him, requesting anonymity said, "He has to satisfy his earlier boss (BS Yediyurappa), he has to keep the central leadership happy and also ensure that the demands of Sangh Parivar are met. This is apart from securing the cabinet from any dissidence, maintaining order among the cadres and the most important of them all, keeping the people happy. These balancing acts are over-shadowing governance and giving him very little time for administration."
Long List of Unresolved Issues Haunt CM Basavaraj Bommai
Following the massive birthday bash of Siddaramaiah organised by his well-wishers in the Congress, the opposition has gained momentum and has repeatedly accused the Bommai administration of corruption.
Taking to Twitter, the Congress decided to up the ante by claiming that the state is all set to see a third chief minister after home minister Amit Shah's visit to Bengaluru last week.
Chief Minister Bommai's tenure has definitely not been an easy one. Though the focus on grassroots governance was not satisfactory, he was able to come out of Yediyurappa's shadows and also manoeuvre through several political crises in state.Prof Sandeep Shastri, Political Analyst
The 62-year old Lingayat leader with socialist roots, Bommai has tried to work on his relationship with the Sangh Parivar. However, despite his repeated attempts to align himself with the Hindutva brand of politics, Bommai has achieved little in keeping them happy.
Recently, Hindutva ideologue and former member of the RSS Chakravarthi Sulibele also took to the micro-blogging site Twitter and said that the 'average party worker is frustrated and that he was being treated like a football.'
In an interaction with The Quint, a senior BJP leader and a long term Sangh worker from Dakshina Kannada, requesting anonymity, said, "When cadres approached me in fear following the death of Praveen, I asked them to clean our party first and not indulge in any communal fight. The result was the massive protest against Bommai and Kateel led BJP in our state."
Bommai's governance has also been under the scanner, with the opposition taking a dig at the chief minister and terming his government as the '40% commission team'.
Ever since he took charge as CM, Bommai has had to tackle corruption allegations over the PSI (Recruitment of Police Sub-Inspector) scam, the 40% commission scam following the death of Santosh Patil, who allegedly killed himself after accusing a minister in the Karnataka government of harassing him for "commissions", the BitCoin scam, the fake currency scam and the postponing of the BBMP elections in Bengaluru.
Apart from charges of corruption, the Bommai government has also been accused of revising school and college textbooks, that critics claim violate the Constitution. He has also been blamed for mismanagement of the hijab controversy and rising communal tensions in state.
Speaking to The Quint, political analyst Prof Sandeep Shastri remarked, "As far as administration and state's economic indicators are concerned, it lacks focus as the CM is caught between stools, managing the government, ironing out differences between party members and ensuring his relationship with Yediyurappa and Centre is fine."
What was supposed to be grand year for Basavaraj Bommai, filled with celebrations and strategies to win the upcoming elections, has turned out to be a difficult time with the chief minister trying to control further damage.
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