Karnataka

A tightrope walk lies ahead for Basavaraj Bommai

Basavaraj Bommai bows before entering the Vidhana Soudha after becoming Chief Minister, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Though Karnataka’s Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is known as an able administrator and an affable politician, it is going to be a tightrope walk for him in the coming days as he needs to set the house in order by taking the rival factions within the BJP together.

“There is no doubt that Mr. Bommai has a grip over administration and has a vision for development. But he needs the freedom to implement them. This would mean that he needs to be independent of his mentor B.S. Yediyurappa. But it is a difficult task that has to be done carefully,” observed a senior leader in the party State unit.

The issue is not simple as Mr. Yediyurappa has a considerable hold on the Lingayat community which is the main support base of the party. Mr. Bommai needs to overshadow such issues by his performance. While there was a trust deficit between the Yediyurappa camp and the party old-timers, Mr. Bommai would now have to demolish the wall between them. “He has the shrewdness and acumen to do that. But he has to do that quickly as less than two years are left for the next Assembly polls,” observed another leader.

Basavaraj Bommai with his predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa after being sworn in at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Basavaraj Bommai with his predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa after being sworn in at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

The first challenge for Mr. Bommai would start soon as he needs to pick up his ministerial team. The composition of the Ministry was in fact one of the reasons for the rebellion during Mr. Yediyurappa’s tenure as a sizeable chunk of ministerial posts had been occupied by “outsiders” who joined the party through ‘Operation Kamala’. This had made the party old-timers to feel that they have been left out.

It remains to be seen how Mr. Bommai would handle this challenge as maintaining the status quo would hurt party old-timers. But any efforts to drastically change the pattern may put him at odds with Mr. Yediyurappa.

This was evident when he announced the continuation of the Advocate-General appointed by his predecessor. Party insiders feel that many more such challenges are bound to surface, for instance when he transfers bureaucrats from the posts in which they were appointed during Mr. Yediyurappa’s tenure. Mr. Yediyurappa’s camp may also not take kindly to any attempt to reduce funds for their constituencies.

“While Mr. Bommai may not want to antagonise Mr. Yediyurappa so soon, indications of being a status quoist would dash the hopes of party old-timers. Also, it appears that the party high command too would want him to be independent of Mr. Yediyurappa, but without damaging the party’s electoral prospects,” said a former Minister.

Basavaraj Bommai with former Ministers K. Sudhakar, B.C. Patil, and Shivaram Hebbar after being sworn in, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Basavaraj Bommai with former Ministers K. Sudhakar, B.C. Patil, and Shivaram Hebbar after being sworn in, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The pressure on Mr. Bommai was visible within minutes of taking oath as Chief Minister as the MLAs who came from other parties to help the BJP form its government surrounded him wherever he went in an obvious effort to lobby for themselves ahead of ministerial expansion. Some of the leaders recollect that the then Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda too faced a similar situation which finally paved the way for a friction between him and the Yediyurappa camp.

On his part, Mr. Bommai has sought to clarify that Mr. Yediyurappa commands respect due to the hard work done by him to build the party that is what he referred to when he said he would follow in the elder leader’s footsteps. But the question is whether Mr. Bommai, who is known for political manoeuvring, will be able to emerge out of the shadow and find solutions to piquant situation.

 


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 5:05:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-tightrope-walk-lies-ahead-for-bommai/article35597856.ece

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