Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Karnataka state executive meeting began Tuesday at Hubballi without former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. The two-day meeting of all senior leaders, MPs, Union and state ministers from Karnataka is scheduled to discuss governance, party building and reflect on recent electoral outcomes.
What stood out on the first day, however, was Yediyurappa’s conspicuous absence. This is the first BJP executive meeting in the state after Yediyurappa resigned from the chief minister’s post and Basavaraj Bommai took charge. Yediyurappa’s son and BJP state vice president B.Y. Vijayendra, too, gave the meeting a miss.
Senior leaders like former deputy CM C.N. Ashwathnarayan, too, missed the meeting, citing “personal reasons”.
BSY’s state tour plans dashed twice
On the day the Karnataka BJP unit, led by national general secretary and in-charge for Karnataka, Arun Singh, inaugurated the executive meeting, Yediyurappa shared photos of his visit to the Dubai expo. Yediyurappa’s photos from Dubai — the only ones he has shared since he started his ‘vacation’ — were timed to coincide with photos of the executive meeting shared by other party leaders.
The former CM is on a year-end holiday with his family. Earlier, in August, within days of stepping down as chief minister, Yediyurappa had travelled to the Maldives with his family, sparking speculations on his next move.
ಜಾಗತಿಕ ಆಕರ್ಷಣೆಯಾಗಿ ಗಮನ ಸೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ದುಬೈ ಎಕ್ಸ್ ಪೋ – 2020 ಕ್ಕೆ ಇಂದು ಭೇಟಿ ನೀಡಲಾಯಿತು. 190ಕ್ಕೂ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ದೇಶಗಳು ಪಾಲ್ಗೊಂಡಿರುವ ಈ ಪ್ರದರ್ಶನ ಮೇಳದಲ್ಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾರತದ ಪೆವಿಲಿಯನ್ ಅತ್ಯದ್ಭುತವಾಗಿದ್ದು, 'ಮುಕ್ತ ವಾತಾವರಣ, ಅವಕಾಶಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಬೆಳವಣಿಗೆ' ಎನ್ನುವ ಆಶಯ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಸಮರ್ಥವಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಬಿಂಬಿತವಾಗಿದೆ. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/kSyEDE1WU5
— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) December 28, 2021
“He is holidaying with family. There was no reason for him to cancel a pre-decided tour. Moreover, he has nothing to contribute to this particular executive meeting,” a close aide of Yediyurappa told ThePrint, adding that the former CM will return to India Wednesday evening. The executive meeting will conclude Wednesday.
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi, however, insisted that there was nothing amiss. “B.S. Yediyurappa has a prior commitment to travel. It is not a norm for all leaders to participate in the executive meeting. Even during national executive meetings, MPs and ministers aren’t able to attend. This is not new. It shouldn’t be read into too much,” Joshi told reporters in Hubballi.
Yediyurappa’s absence comes at a time when his attempts to go on a statewide tour after stepping down as CM have been dashed by the party twice.
Moreover, some BJP leaders in the state unit are striving to undermine his influence in party circles.
“He became a mass leader because the party gave him an opportunity. The party has propped him up all these years and now it is time for a change in the leadership dynamic,” a national general secretary of the BJP had previously told ThePrint.
‘No change in CM’
Earlier, BJP Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh dismissed speculations over a change in chief minister.
“The question of change in CM is hypothetical. Bommai is a seasoned, simple, humble and honest leader and is exceeding our expectations as CM. He will continue to be chief minister and we will go to polls (in 2023) under his leadership,” Arun Singh told the media Monday.
His statement instantly drew comparisons on similar statements, in June this year, made weeks before Yediyurappa was asked to step down as chief minister.
Bommai’s statements that posts and positions were not permanent have fuelled rumours of a change in leadership. This came after a few BJP leaders, including ministers like Murugesh Nirani and K.S. Eshwarappa, made statements hinting at a possible change of guard.
“I have the energy and inspiration to work tirelessly without rest all 365 days of the year. I have resolved to work at least 15 hours a day. Bringing the BJP back to power in the 2023 election is my aim,” Bommai told the media Tuesday. He was responding to the statement of BJP MLA M.P. Kumaraswamy that the chief minister should take “rest”.
Belagavi loss discussed
While the BJP has not met its own expectations in the recently concluded MLC elections, the loss in Belagavi has come as a severe shock.
The BJP won one of the two seats in Belagavi, while Lakhan Jarkiholi, who contested as an independent after the party denied him a ticket, defeated the BJP’s official candidate.
Jarkiholi is the brother of BJP leaders Ramesh and Balachandra Jarkiholi and Congress leader Satish Jarkiholi. The party is looking to investigate if there was any “sabotage” by the influential Jarkiholi family to ensure Lakhan’s victory and the BJP candidate’s defeat.
The executive meeting will also aim to curb public criticism of Bommai and his government and improve coordination between the government and party.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)