BENGALURU: Celebrations to mark Nalin Kumar Kateel’s three years in office as state BJP president was held on Sunday. While this could be the end of his term, there is also speculation that followers of party national general secretary BL Santhosh are pushing for an extension, at least till the state Assembly elections are held next year.
A member of this group told The New Indian Express, “Kateel has toured the state a record 21 times. Why should they change him in an election year? He has been performing well and should be retained. He should be hailed as a hat-trick hero with three back-to-back victories, as brought out in newspaper adverts on Sunday.”
While the advertisement has messages from prominent leaders, conspicuously missing is party Parliamentary Board member BS Yediyurappa. The former chief minister, who has been resurrected by the party central leadership, and the party state president, whoever it could be, will have a major say in distributing tickets in the Assembly polls. Yediyurappa will obviously want his nominee in this all-important party position.
Two days ago, Yediyurappa said in New Delhi that he wants to tour the state, while a section opposed to him is working hard to restrict him to the 30-plus constituencies where BJP lost the election in 2018 and expects to win with more effort.
Meanwhile, the names of Shobha Karandlaje, an Arebhashe Vokkaliga, Arvind Limbavalli, a Scheduled Caste, and CT Ravi, a Vokkaliga, are doing the rounds for the state party president’s post. While the first two are said to be acceptable to the Yediyurappa group, Ravi’s candidature is being pushed by the Santhosh camp.
When Yediyurappa stepped down as chief minister, he insisted on passing on the baton to his confidant Basavaraj Bommai, a Lingayat. Some within the party wonder whether Yediyurappa will be allowed to have a say in the appointment of party president too. If that happens, he will emerge as the numero uno with the final say in the government and party.
Though, as per the party’s unwritten rules, Yediyurappa should have been consigned to the Margadarshak Mandal, he has been made a member of the BJP parliamentary board and also Central Election Committee. But the moot question is whether the authority is real.
If the party central leadership expects him to bring in votes, he has to be given authority, says his camp, while the opponents insist that the two appointments are a big recognition and he does not need to have a say in matters concerning the party and election. Sources said the new president is expected to be announced soon after the Ganesha Chaturthi festival.