Speculations rife over Bommai absence at winter session: Health reasons or discontent over LoP post?

BJP high command appointed Vokkaliga leader and seven-time MLA R Ashok as LoP nearly six months after the Karnataka Assembly polls.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Dec 09, 2023 | 7:30 AMUpdated Dec 09, 2023 | 7:30 AM

Speculations rife over Bommai absence at winter session: Health reasons or discontent over LoP post?

With the 10-day winter session of the Karnataka legislature underway in Belagavi, the BJP is being spearheaded by the newly appointed Leader of the Opposition (LoP) R Ashok.

On the other hand, former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has stayed away from the session, apparently owing to health issues. However, there is speculated that there are political reasons behind his absence.

Bommai recently underwent knee and heart surgery. “On the advice of the doctor, he is not taking part in the winter session,” a staff member in Bommai’s office told South First.

After releasing a booklet highlighting the failures and mismanagement of the ruling Congress party on 29 August, Bommai distanced himself from party affairs owing to multiple surgeries.

But political pundits have a different take on Bommai remaining away from the winter session. They claim that he is sulking over the party high command not considering him for the post of the LoP.

It may also be noted that Bommai had flown to Delhi numerous times and met the party’s central leadership, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, over considering him for the LoP post.

Also Read: Contractors submit 2nd set of evidence in 40%-commission probe

The health concerns

BJP high command appointed Vokkaliga leader and seven-time MLA R Ashok as its LoP nearly six months after the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls.

The appointment did not go down well with many senior leaders of the BJP, and particularly the Lingayats, despite the community being given the state president post.

Lingayat strongman and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s son and first-time MLA BY Vijayendra has been chosen to head the Karnataka unit of the BJP.

Bommai was one among the several leaders making efforts to get the LoP post. However, the result dismayed the former chief minister.

On condition of anonymity, an official from Bommai’s office told South First: “The former chief minister has undergone knee and heart surgery. The doctors have advised him not to speak and travel until he recovers. He is recuperating.”

He added: “Even if he attends the session, he will not be able to speak on issues because of his health condition. However, being a former chief minister, he cannot sit quietly either, and would have to raise questions and answer as well. Considering the advice of the doctors, he has distanced himself from the session.”

On whether he was staying away because of political reasons, he said: “There are no political reasons. It is purely based on the opinions of the doctors. He is planning to attend the session at least two or three days next week.”

Also Read: New Karnataka BJP chief meets Bommai before taking charge

Political pundits have a different take

Meanwhile, political analysts suggest that the former chief minister may be miffed with the party high command, particularly regarding the LoP pick.

They point to various reasons why the BJP high command opted for R Ashok over Bommai for the post.

Political commentator Ashok Chandaragi told South First: “The party high command is miffed with Bommai for the Karnataka loss. Even with only a few weeks left for the Assembly polls, he had assured or instilled confidence among the party top brass that the BJP would get at least a working majority in the polls.”

He added: “The BJP high command trusted his words, but when the results did not turn in their favour, the central leadership — especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah — were miffed with Bommai for failing to assess the ground situation.”

Chandraragi explained: “He visited Delhi multiple times after the Assembly polls for various reasons, including to lobby for the LoP position. The high command did not entertain him. Despite multiple visits and requests, the prime minister did not give him an appointment.”

He pointed out: “Modi telephoned Bommai only after the latter underwent surgery. He did not receive a single response from the prime minister for five months after the polls.”

Chandaragi said: “Bommai has lost relevance in the BJP as the party performed poorly under his leadership. The party believed he would bring more strength to the cadre, but his style of working cost the BJP the Karnataka elections.”

The Karnataka State Contractors Association levelling 40-percent commission allegations, the police sub-inspector recruitment scam, lack of recruitments in the government sector, rampant corruption, and other issues exposed poor governance of the Bommai government, claimed political commentators.