Bengaluru: Trouble and worry have started sprouting for Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai with seniors saying that they would not like to join the new Cabinet under the “changed circumstances.”
Jagadish Shettar, who was the chief minister in 2012-13 and industries minister in BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet, made it clear that he was not in the race for a berth in the Bommai cabinet. “I have decided not to join the cabinet. I had no problem working under Yediyurappa since he is senior to me and I had served as a minister under him earlier. The situation is a little different now, and I have decided to work for the party instead,” Shettar said.
Other senior BJP leaders have also indicated that they may stay away, indicating that a little storm is brewing between seniors and a junior who is now the CM.
The new CM will also be on a tricky turf in dealing with political heavyweights in the BJP, many of whom were in the race for the CM’s post. Even if they join the cabinet, Bommai may find it difficult to assert himself and get his vision for the party implemented.
The BJP high command seems to have taken a huge gamble ahead of the 2023 polls by picking Bommai as he belongs to the miniscule Sadar sub-sect of the Lingayat community. There were three other contenders for the post — Arvind Bellad, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Murugesh Nirani, all belonging to the dominant Panchamasali sub-sect among the Lingayat community, which forms 16-18% of the state’s population.
Whether the Panchamshali sect would accept Bommai is doubtful, but his challenge would be to first emerge as the community leader and fill the shoes of Yediyurappa by ensuring good governance and taking party functionaries along. And for all this he has just one and a half years ahead of him before Karnataka goes to the polls.
It will take Bommai at least four to five months to get acquainted with the functioning of the government by expanding his cabinet and the secretariat, and the last four to five months will go in preparations before the 2023 assembly polls. So he will be left with just about 10 months to offer governance. And sandwiched in between will be the crucial elections to the local bodies this December which will be the first test for Bommai.
But immediately, his biggest challenge will be the formation of the cabinet. Already hectic lobbying has begun with supporters of Yediyurappa exerting pressure on the former CM.
Bommai will also have to take the vociferous anti-BSY group along with him. Many in this group see the new CM as a rubberstamp of BSY.
The CM is expected to go to Delhi Friday on a thanks-giving visit. He has indicated that this will be a short visit and that he is neither carrying a list of probables nor will he be discussing the issue with the party leadership now. “This (cabinet formation) is an elaborate exercise and I will need time with the senior leaders to discuss the matter,” he told the media.