Lobbying on for control of Bengaluru
After a spat between two senior Cabinet Ministers over the control of Bengaluru affairs, an uneasy calm prevails in the BJP camp even as intense lobbying continues. A turf war that was mostly fought behind the screens between July 2019 and July 2021 when B.S. Yediyurappa was the Chief Minister, is now out in the open, possibly bringing discomfort to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
On Saturday, as Mr. Bommai was away in Delhi, Housing Minister V. Somanna, citing his previous experience, claimed that he was the most suitable candidate to hold the post of Bengaluru in charge. He also alleged non-cooperation from Revenue Minister R. Ashok and accused him of not attending meetings convened by him.
According to party insiders, the current wave of turf war has intensified after Mr. Ashok was given the mandate to monitor COVID-19 and flood situation in Bengaluru, a move that is being seen suspiciously by other leaders. It is also learnt that Mr. Ashok is also lobbying for Bengaluru district in-charge post. “This has caused anxiety among others, considering Mr. Ashok’s proximity to the Chief Minister. The four new entrants to the party and those opposed to Mr. Yediyurappa’s camp seem to be comfortable with Mr. Somanna,” party sources said. Besides Mr. Somanna, others lobbying for the portfolio, include Higher Education Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan. In the absence of a leader who could become an unanimous choice to lead Bengaluru development, Mr. Yediyurappa kept the portfolio with himself to avoid embarrassments. The trend has been continued by Mr. Bommai too.
Strategically, Bengaluru is important in electoral politics as it accounts for 28 constituencies of which the BJP currently holds 15. The elections to the BBMP council are expected soon. “The reading is that in the absence of the BBMP council, the Bengaluru district in charge becomes all powerful in decision making both for development works and party works, especially ahead of elections,” BJP sources said. “Mr. Ashok was an undisputed leader in the party for Bengaluru calculations till 2015. He does not enjoy that position any more since there are challengers now,” sources analysed.
It is also no secret that Mr. Ashok and Mr. Somanna do not get along well. Mr. Somanna held the Bengaluru development portfolio in the J.H. Patel Cabinet in the late 90s when Mr. Ashok was a first-time legislator.
However, exuding confidence that the issue will be resolved amicably, and that he was in touch with all the legislators from Bengaluru, Mr. Bommai on Sunday said, “I will solve the problem whether it is Bengaluru development or appointment of Bengaluru in charge. The decision on Bengaluru in charge will depend on the outcome of my discussions.”