Bengaluru, Soon after Basavaraj Bommai assumed charge as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, he was greeted with the noise of multiple power centres reverberating around, but this was silenced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in his address at an event at Davanagere yesterday.
Shah, in his speech, had lavished praise on BS Yediurappa and announced that the BJP would fight the next assembly election under his leadership. These comments have sent a strong message to the heads of Lingayats among others.
The party’s central leadership appears to have realised the Lingayat factor in state politics. They realise keeping out the Lingayat strong man Yediyurappa altogether is losing the fixed deposit loyalty of the community. The central leaders are aware the hard times party had to face when Yediyurappa quit the party and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) after he was asked to step down as the chief minister in 2012.
The KJP caused a big damage to the saffron party in 2013 assembly elections in which its performance was the worst since the 1994 state elections. However, the party achieved its best-ever performance in the 2019 elections winning 25 out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats, after Yediyurappa was brought back to the party fold under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Lingayats are the core support-base of the BJP in the state. Therefore, the party does not want to disturb the loyalty it enjoys. Shah’s message also sends a strong signal to those in Yediyurappa’s camp who lineup at his residence with their grievances and political aspirations.
His message also is a moral booster for Bommai, who is yet to prove his mettle electoral ‘akhada’. In administrative ‘akhada’, however, he has already won the plaudits from the central party leaders including Shah, who openly acknowledged it in his Davanagere speech.
Bommai also has a very big task of doing a balancing act. He has not only to keep Yediyurappa and his aides in good humor, but also dissenters and heads of the ‘mathas’. Managing all of them is not bed of roses, but a craddle of too many thorns for Bommai.
Under these circumstances, Shah’s pat on Bommai’s back and keeping faith in his leadership is certainly a moral booster for him, as no one knows his ability as an electoral master. With the support of electoral masters like Modi, Shah and party national president JP Nadda, Bommai would have felt that there are time and tested political masterminds, who would clear the thorns strewn in his craddle.