Bengaluru: Accusing the opposition Congress of unnecessarily raking up the issue of Karnataka Chief Minister replacement, to cover up the rift within, senior BJP leader and Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Wednesday challenged the grand old party to name its Chief Minister candidate for 2023 assembly polls.
Ruling out Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s replacement, he said BJP’s top leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have already said that the election will be under Bommai’s leadership and the party will abide by it.
The minister was reacting to Congress’ series of tweets on Tuesday speculating about Chief Minister Bommai being replaced and even calling him a “Puppet Chief Minister”.
“To cover up their infighting that has come on to the streets, Congress is spreading false information that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will be replaced. Congress has no base in the country, what rights do they have to speak about BJP’s leadership and Chief Minister change,” Ashoka said.
Speaking to reporters, he said, Congress has not been able to appoint their party’s national president and is today talking about Chief Minister change in the BJP government.
“Did Amit Shah or the Prime Minister tell you (about Chief Minister change)? Things have gotten within your own party because of your infighting, clear it first…..There will be neither Chief Minister change nor will BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel be replaced, we will go to polls under their leadership,” he added. There has been some buzz on and off within the state BJP in recent times, regarding some kind of an overhaul including at the top level, especially after the recent visit of Amit Shah to the state.
Ashoka, further challenging the Congress, said, “Our Chief Minister is Basavaraj Bommai, if you have guts, courage and morality will you be able to tell who is your Chief Minister candidate? Question yourself about it, you don’t have the courage to announce, but you want to speak about others.”
He also said that Congress fears getting split on making such an announcement into-Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar Congress.
Ashoka noted that the internal rift between Congress leaders like Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar, Mallikarjun Kharge, G Parameshwara and M B Patil, has come out in open after Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday event at Davangere. To counter Siddaramaiah’s event, Shivakumar is organising a march in the name of 75th independence day, to prove his strength, he said.
“It has also come to our notice that the native Congress leaders have held a meeting expressing their displeasure about Siddaramaiah’s birthday event,” he said, adding that instead of going to flood-affected areas Congress leaders are involved in such things.
Former BJP MLA B Suresh Gowda’s recent statement indicating some changes that the high command will take a call on replacing the Chief Minister and other matters in the interest of the party and win the elections in future had added to the speculations. However, BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel rejected it by stating that Bommai would complete his tenure.