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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
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BSY To Bommai, BJP Plays It Safe In Karnataka With Lingayat Lineage

The change of guard in Karnataka has been peacable. New CM Basavaraj Bommai has to be mindful of dissent in the state BJP.

BSY To Bommai, BJP Plays It Safe In Karnataka With Lingayat Lineage
Photographs by PTI
BSY To Bommai, BJP Plays It Safe In Karnataka With Lingayat Lineage
outlookindia.com
2021-07-31T17:29:45+05:30

In the end, the long-awaited transition was swift and methodical—a day after Karnataka’s BJP strongman B.S. Yediyurappa stepped down as chief minister on July 26, the party’s legislators went into a huddle in a Bangalore hotel. Within hours, a new leader was chosen. But rather than attempting a complete revamp of Karnataka affairs, the central leadership seems to have settled for a safer bet in naming Basavaraj Bommai as the new chief minister, given that state elections are about 22 months away.

All through the previous week, Yediyurappa had kept up the suspense over where things were headed, saying he was awaiting word from the party high-command on whether to continue or quit. In fact, things were just as uncertain when the CM rose to speak at an event held to mark his second year at the helm. But Yediyurappa didn’t dwell much on the occasion at hand and settled into what was actually his valedictory address—tracing his early days in a fledgling party in Karnataka until finally breaking into tears as he announced his decision to step down.

Yediyurappa’s two years as CM were punctuated by frequent—but not entirely unexpected—bouts of dissidence. When the BJP formed the government in July 2019 after toppling the Janata Dal-Congress coalition, it was relying on the support of a group of defectors who were rewarded with ministerial berths. In a state party unit that was already faction-ridden, the disgruntlement only grew—party MLAs were making frequent Delhi visits and some were openly critical with allegations of corruption and interference by the CM’s family members. Yediyurappa, too, described his stint as an ‘agnipareekshe’ (trial by fire), rec­ounting the circumstances in which he took over in 2019. “The Centre didn’t let me form a council of ministers for...

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