High Command game plan: Pralhad Joshi as CM, B.Y. Vijayendra as Dy.CM; Yediyurappa as Puducherry Governor
Bengaluru: There are murmurs of a possible change in leadership in Karnataka and political circles are abuzz with talk that Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa could be changed by the BJP High Command citing his age-related problems.
Yediyurappa is 78 and way past the BJP’s unwritten 75-year-limit rule for leaders to hold constitutional posts. Pressure on Yediyurappa is piling up from the Opposition as well as within BJP and the chorus seeking his resignation has only got louder. Anything might happen at any moment in Karnataka, say sources.
The High Command is considering the name of Union Minister Pralhad Joshi for the post of CM. The names of Deputy CM Dr. C.N. Ashwathnarayan, Minister V. Somanna and rebel Basanagouda Patil Yatnal are also being considered.
The speculation got some credence when Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra, who is also State BJP Vice-President, arrived in New Delhi on a special flight last night and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Party’s National General Secretary Arun Singh, who is in charge of Karnataka.
Hurried lockdown announcement
Sources said that as soon as Yediyurappa got a whiff of High Command’s intention yesterday noon, he hurriedly called a meeting of officials and Ministers to announce a lockdown from May 10 to 24. The word ‘lockdown’ was intentionally introduced to convey to party bosses that the CM is indeed taking measures to control the pandemic.
It may be recalled here that in the last meeting with the CM and Ministers, the word ‘lockdown’ was avoided and ‘Janata Curfew’ or ‘COVID Curfew’ were coined. By stressing on the word ‘lockdown’ now, Yediyurappa wanted to deflect the attention of the High Command though there is not much of a difference between the existing restrictions and the restriction that will be imposed from May 10, sources said.
Bommai and Vijayendra also took State Advocate General Prabhuling Navadagi and a Supreme Court Advocate along with them and talks are on in New Delhi.
The BJP High Command has moved decisively to protect the party’s image in the wake of deepening or call it worsening COVID-19 situation in Karnataka where things have gone out of control.
Though Bommai and Vijayendra have projected that the State was doing its best to contain the virus, the High Command is not convinced, sources said. Added to this, there is a disgruntlement among the party and Ministers on Yediyurappa’s style of functioning and his own party MPs, MLAs have unearthed scams — BBMP’s bed scam unearthed by MP Tejaswi Surya for example — that thrived under the very nose of the Government in the State Capital.
These scams have embarrassed the ruling party and even the Union Government has come under severe censure by the people (even by traditional BJP voters) who are bearing the brunt of the virus outbreak.
The High Command is in damage-control mode and wants to enforce a change of guard. Amit Shah and Arun Singh are holding separate talks and sources said that the party bosses are toying with the idea of making Vijayendra the Deputy CM and posting Yediyurappa as the Puducherry Governor.
Pralhad Joshi is a Brahmin and Ashwathnarayan is a Vokkaliga. The names of Yatnal and Somanna (both Lingayats) have figured in the list so as not to antagonise Lingayat vote base. Also, the High Command is considering seating Vijayendra as Deputy CM to placate Yediyurappa and also not to ruffle feathers within the Yediyurappa loyalists, sources said.
During a recent discussion with the RSS leadership, Yediyurappa is learnt to have given two options for his exit — making Ashwathnarayan the CM with Vijayendra as his Deputy or making Basavaraj Bommai (Lingayat) the CM and by giving Vijayendra a prominent party position, sources added.