Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday further fuelled rumours of a possible leadership change in the State, while the main agenda of his Delhi visit — clearance for Cabinet expansion or reshuffle — continued to hang fire.
Mr. Yediyurappa late in the evening met party president J.P. Nadda on this thorny issue, apparently as per the direction of the Prime Minister, but nothing concrete emerged. Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Yediyurappa told mediapersons that he had a “fruitful and warm meeting” with the Prime Minister. “I discussed development issues of the State, including floods, COVID-19, and irrigation projects. He enquired about my health,” he said.
Touchy issue broached?
BJP circles, however, were abuzz with rumours that the Prime Minister had broached the subject of leadership change in Karnataka and expressed unhappiness over certain aspects of governance in the State. Several leaders in the State BJP unit speculated that a leadership change was imminent after the Bihar Assembly polls by the year-end.
Sources close to the Chief Minister, however, painted a contrary picture of the meeting.
“The meeting was scheduled to be for just 15 minutes but was extended to 45 minutes, indicating it was constructive,” said one of his close aides and strategists who has accompanied him to Delhi.
They argued that the Prime Minister asking Mr. Yediyurappa to consult Mr. Nadda on Cabinet expansion/reshuffle was itself an indication that leadership change was not on the cards, at least not any time soon. The Chief Minister met Mr. Nadda in the evening, but was not given a go ahead for Cabinet expansion/reshuffle. This only added to rumours that the party leadership had its reservations.
Later, Mr. Yediyurappa told mediapersons that he had discussed threadbare the proposed Cabinet expansion with the party president and that Mr. Nadda told him that the party would give him suitable directions after discussions with other leaders. Sources pointed out that Home Minister Amit Shah, who has been taking all key decisions, would be discharged from AIIMS only on Thursday.
Waiting for direction
“I am waiting for directions from the party and will do as they say. I was keen on carrying out the exercise before the Assembly session. Let us see what the party says,” the Chief Minister said. When quizzed whether it would be a Cabinet expansion or reshuffle, he said that also would depend on the directions from the party leadership.
Multiple sources in the party said the main aim of the Chief Minister’s Delhi trip was to secure a clearance for Cabinet reshuffle, in which he was not successful and the matter would continue to remain in limbo for now.