Replacement talk hurts image of a CM mired in woes

Replacement talk and what it does to image of CM mired in myriad woes

Outside party politics, corruption charges have rocked the Bommai administration

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. Credit: DH Photo

After 124 days in office, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is seen battling optics with what looks like a growing list of problems. 

Late on Sunday evening, senior BJP leader and RDPR minister K S Eshwarappa projected Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani as the future chief minister. 

“Soon, (Nirani) will become the CM. I don’t know under what circumstances,” Eshwarappa said at an event at Bilgi, Bagalkot. Although he quickly clarified that he was not suggesting Bommai’s removal, the political message was out.

That Nirani, a Panchamasali Lingayat, has chief ministerial ambitions is well-known in political circles. 

On Monday, Nirani clarified his position on Eshwarappa’s statements.

Also Read | Basavaraj Bommai on rocky road to 2023

“Bommai is doing a good job. We will face the next Assembly polls under his leadership,” he said, adding that the BJP would win at least 120 seats in the 2023 election. 

Eshwarappa’s statement not only adds to the CM’s woes, it is an antithesis to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement that Bommai would be the BJP’s face for the 2023 elections.

In fact, Eshwarappa was among senior party leaders who did not buy Shah’s endorsement of Bommai as the BJP’s captain for 2023.  

The Hangal Assembly bypoll defeat earlier this month was another setback for Bommai.

The bypoll was the first election Bommai faced as the CM. The seat is located in Haveri, which is Bommai’s home district politically. The loss also brought to fore the underlying divide within the BJP. 

Eshwarappa’s statement is “a definite signal of the CM’s replacement before the next election,” according to political analyst Muzaffar Assadi, adding that Bommai is unable to get a grip on the administration.

“But replacing Bommai will be political suicide,” he said.

“Not only will it symbolize lack of consistency on the part of the BJP, it will also result in realignment of social forces. Replacing Bommai with another Lingayat could see all non-Lingayat groups realigning against the BJP.” 

And Bommai’s ‘communal’ stance on issues is making people speculate that he is doing that to keep his chair safe. 

Outside party politics, corruption charges have rocked the Bommai administration.

First, the Bitcoin scam that allegedly involves politicians forced the BJP to deny talk of Bommai’s removal. Then came the complaint by the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office that they pay kickbacks to get their works done.

A senior BJP legislator summed up Bommai’s situation thus: “There’s a feeling of insecurity.” 

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