Terming the buzz over possible changes of leadership in Karnataka as “hypothetical”, BJP national General Secretary in-charge of state Arun Singh on Tuesday said Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is a “common man”, and people here like him. He also said the cabinet expansion or reshuffle is the prerogative of the Chief Minister.
“There are no answers for the question you are asking, there is no answer for hypothetical questions… These are hypothetical questions that you are raising, there is no answer,” Singh told reporters in response to a question on leadership change. Asked whether Bommai will be the face of the party for 2023 assembly polls, he said, “Basavaraj Bommai is a common man, the way he is working for the poor and farmers, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, people of the state like him.” The fresh round of speculation about leadership change in the state, was following BJP national general secretary BL Santhosh’s statement on Sunday that the party’s strength lies in the induction of new faces.
State BJP strongman and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who was replaced by Bommai in July last year, also said there are no such talks about leadership change in Karnataka and what is going on are mere “speculations”. He also expressed hopes about cabinet expansion taking place in a couple of days with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is in the state, may announce a decision or do it after discussing with PM Modi and other leaders in Delhi.
BJP’s Karnataka unit President Nalin Kumar Kateel also said there is no confusion in the party on the leadership issue. “The clear message for those who are trying to create confusion is, we are going to the next polls together as a team under the leadership of current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Yediyurappa’s guidance. We will face the election and win 150 seats. If some people are in other illusions, it is good that they come out of it, “he said.
Shah, who is in the city today, is meeting senior party leaders including Bommai and Yediyurappa, and is likely to assess the BJP’s preparations for the elections. His visit has come amid buzz over possible changes in leadership, and pressure to reshuffle or expand the cabinet.
Bommai, who is under pressure to expand or reshuffle his cabinet at the earliest, has already indicated that he would try to discuss it with Shah during this visit. There are currently five positions vacant in the state cabinet, which has 29 ministers, including the chief minister, against the sanctioned strength of 34.
Some legislators have even been advocating for the Gujarat-like overhaul of the Karnataka cabinet soon, to make way for new faces, ahead of the assembly elections.