With the countdown underway for the first session of the newly-elected Karnataka Assembly on Monday, 22 May, the BJP is yet to announce a Leader of the Opposition.
The ruling Congress government has called for a three-day Assembly session, in which all 224 MLAs are expected to take oath.
The BJP will be the Opposition party in the Assembly, as it won 66 seats, making it the second-largest political party in the House.
Even nine days after the results were announced, the BJP has neither called its Legislature Party meeting nor announced the Leader of the Opposition.
The LoP frontrunners
Former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, who represents the Shiggaon Assembly seat, and former ministers R Ashok (Padmanabanagar) and S Suresh Kumar (Rajajinagar) are the senior-most leaders in the saffron cadre and are frontrunners for the post of the Leader of the Opposition.
Second-line leaders such as Naragund MLA CC Patil, Malleswaram MLA CN Ashwath Narayan, Karkal MLA V Sunil Kumar, Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, and Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Aravind Bellad are also in the running for the post.
BJP national general secretary Arun Singh, who is also in-charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka, chaired a meeting on the poll analyses at the state party headquarters in Bengaluru on Sunday, 21 May.
It was the first visit by someone from the BJP central leadership to the state since the election results were declared.
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BJP’s choice for LoP
In a bid to send a strong message to the cadre, the BJP is likely to choose second-line leaders over senior ones for the LoP post.
Of the 66 BJP MLAs, Bommai, R Ashok and Suresh Kumar are the senior-most leaders in terms of holding top posts in the government and being elected multiple times as MLAs.
Of the others, CC Patil belongs to the influential Lingayat Panchamasali community and managed to get a berth in the Cabinet whenever BJP was in power, but he does not have the expected level of fame. He is one of the strong contenders from the second-line leaders for the post.
The other two Panchamasalis — Yatnal and Bellad — have been elected multiple times as MLAs, but have not got the proper posts and representation when the party was at the helm. Hence, the BJP is likely to consider them for the top post in the Opposition.
Arun Singh told reporters in Bengaluru on Sunday: “The BJP Parliamentary Board will make a decision on appointing the opposition leader. The party MLAs will elect their leader in the house.”
Also read: Karnataka Cabinet approves Congress’ 5 guarantees
BJP focuses on polls results
After over a week, the BJP chaired its first meeting to carry out an analysis of the poll results under Arun Singh.
Bommai, BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi, who lost from Chikkmagaluru seat, National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh, and the party’s state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel were also present in the meeting.
ರಾಜ್ಯಾಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರಾದ ಶ್ರೀ @nalinkateel ಅವರ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇಂದು ರಾಜ್ಯ ಬಿಜೆಪಿ ಕಾರ್ಯಾಲಯ ಜಗನ್ನಾಥ ಭವನದಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಜ್ಯದ ವಿಶೇಷ ಸಭೆ ನಡೆಯಿತು.
ನಿಕಟಪೂರ್ವ ಮುಖ್ಯಮಂತ್ರಿಗಳಾದ ಶ್ರೀ @BSBommai, ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ಸಂಘಟನಾ ಪ್ರಧಾನ ಕಾರ್ಯದರ್ಶಿಗಳಾದ ಶ್ರೀ @blsanthosh, ರಾಜ್ಯ ಉಸ್ತುವಾರಿಗಳಾದ ಶ್ರೀ @ArunSinghbjp, ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ಪ್ರಧಾನ… pic.twitter.com/JJSn4MYh4W
— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) May 21, 2023
It was the first official meeting chaired by the saffron party after it won only 66 seats in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls, down from 104 seats in the 2018 elections.
In the meeting, Singh collected poll-related details from the party’s district-level presidents and in-charges. He also conducted a detailed analysis of the party’s performance in the Assembly elections.
“The BJP’s vote share has not decreased in this election. The Congress got more seats because a few percent of the JD(S) votes went to it in many seats,” pointed out Singh.
He added: “We had expected to win more seats but couldn’t. However, the party’s vote share has increased in many seats.”
He also demanded that the Congress implement all five of its pre-poll guarantees without any terms and conditions.
Taking exception to the possible announcement of terms and conditions to get the benefits of the five guarantees announced by the Congress, CT Ravi told reporters: “The Congress had claimed that it would implement all the five guarantees on the very first day of coming to power in the state. Its true colours have been revealed on the very first day as it failed to implement its promises.”
He added: “Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar had announced that their five guarantees would be beneficial to everyone but they are now chalking out terms and conditions. We demand that the government deliver what they have promised in the polls.”