The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in the State is expecting the focus of the party high command to shift to Karnataka after December 8, when results for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls will be announced. The State unit is expected to overhauled, starting with the party president.
BJP State unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel’s three-year term ended in August 2022, and since then, talk of a change has been persistent.
Need for aggression
“Mr. Kateel was a good choice when a mass leader like B.S. Yediyurappa was the chief minister and elections were not in sight. But now, we need someone aggressive as party chief to lead us in the elections. Recently, speaking at a Janaspandana rally, Mr. Kateel compared Mr. Yediyurappa and Mr. Bommai to Krishna and Arjuna when it came to leading the party in the elections, completely discounting his own role as party chief,” said a senior party leader, adding that Mr. Kateel has some health issues.
A minister conceded that the State unit and the government lack the aggressiveness to fight elections, and everyone seems to be hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will bring out that fighting spirit. “The party unit here needs a good leader who puts the house in order first. Most of the issues that have hit the party’s image recently have emanated from within, that the opposition is effectively capitalising on,” he said.
With Mr. Yediyurappa taking a backseat, the party is now looking at a generational shift in leadership. The next party chief in the State will be someone the high command is keen to groom as one of the next leaders for Karnataka, a senior party functionary said.
The names doing the rounds are Chikkamagaluru MLA and national general secretary of the party C. T. Ravi, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje, both Vokkaligas, and Energy, Kannada and Culture Minister V. Sunil Kumar. All three are known for a hardline Hindutva stance.
Given the functioning style of the current central leadership, the State unit is not ruling out someone apart from these three.
New role for Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Vijayendra?
The new president is likely to get a new team of general secretaries, who will be made in-charge of key regions and districts during the polls, for which lobbying has already begun.
B. Y. Vijayendra, who has been seeking a bigger role in the party for at least three years now, will likely be made a general secretary and he will likely contest from Mr. Yediyurappa’s Shikaripura seat, according to sources close to him.