Karnataka ministers, legislators get no audience with Amit Shah
Shah was seen sitting for lunch in the company of senior Karnataka BJP leader BS Yediyurappa, chief minister Bommai, union minister Pralhad Joshi and BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel while other ministers and legislators were in the background.
The much-awaited visit of union home minister Amit Shah to Karnataka on Tuesday turned out to be a damp squib as the senior BJP leader did not hold any discussions with state ministers or any legislators from the ruling party, at least two persons aware of the development said.
“There was no meeting with any of the legislators. We had food in the same place and after which some legislators took pictures with Shah and that was all,” said one of two persons cited above, requesting anonymity.
Shah was in Bengaluru on Tuesday which raised expectations from the state unit who have been waiting for a decision on the expansion of the Basavaraj Bommai-led cabinet as well as to help quell the growing dissent within the party.
However, Shah was seen sitting for lunch in the company of senior BJP leader BS Yediyurappa, chief minister Bommai, union minister Pralhad Joshi and BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel while other ministers and legislators were in the background.
People aware of the developments said even ministers did not get an audience with Shah, who was in the city for three other events as well, including the closing ceremony of Khelo India, inauguration of the NATGRID and foundation laying of Nrupathunga University.
Shah, according to people aware of the developments, has taken it upon himself to set the BJP in order in a state which the saffron party considers the “gateway to the south” and its political philosophy of “Congress Mukt Bharat”.
Karnataka is the only state in the south where the BJP is in power and the party considers this as the anchor to penetrate other states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
However, the charges of corruption against Bommai, fanning communal tensions and lack of development or welfare schemes threatens to derail the BJP’s juggernaut. Karnataka goes to the polls in 2023 which is to be followed by the 2024 Lok Sabha.
Shah’s visit was expected to put an end to the constant infighting within the BJP and clear the way to expand the cabinet but the confusion about leadership change remains. Shah was expected to take stock of the political situation and even give his suggestions to help the BJP in Karnataka win 150 seats, Yediyurappa said on Tuesday.
“There are rumours that there will be a change of chief minister but nothing has been confirmed,” a senior BJP leader said requesting anonymity.
However, Yediyurappa and the party president confirmed that no such change was anticipated.
“I am confident that cabinet expansion will happen in the next two to three days. I think that Amit Shah has taken this decision and only then came here. He may announce it now or go back to Delhi, discuss it with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and then announce it. But the cabinet expansion will be done as soon as possible,” Yediyurappa said.
Nalin Kumar Kateel said that the party will face the next elections under Bommai’s leadership.
“In our party or government, there is no problem of leadership and we will face the next elections under Bommai’s leadership, Yediyurappa’s guidance and as a team and am confident of winning 150 seats,” Kateel said.
The state party president’s term is nearing its end and there is speculation that former chief minister Jagadish Shettar could be the likely choice.