Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai trashed talks about leadership change in the government, reiterating that he has been given a “free hand” by the BJP leadership.
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, he said “nothing is there”, when asked a direct question whether he will be replaced.
Asked about how his predecessor BS Yediyurappa was removed as Chief Minister without a warning, Mr Bommai, who is 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka, replied,”Every day is not a Sunday. High command has given me a free hand”.
Accused by the opposition of being Mr Yediyurappa’s ‘puppet, Mr Bommai said that he “takes inspiration” from the former chief minister but denied reports that the senior leader interferes in “day-to-day affairs” of governance.
“I take inspiration from BS Yediyurappa, his programme. He is a mass leader. His role is to help me govern. Yediyurappa does not interfere in my day-to-day affairs,” said Mr Bommai.
Speculation about a change of guard in Karnataka has refused to die down despite BJP Bommai officially confirming that Mr Bommai will lead the party in the 2023 assembly polls in the state.
Mr Bommai, 62, appeared to defend the rising tide of communal violence in the state spearheaded by Hindutva outifts, blaming it on what he called as a wave of attacks against Hindutva activists under the previous Congress government. This, he said, had caused “uneasiness and anger in society”.
‘Do you expect nothing to happen after so many killings? My role is that of an umpire. I will visit the home of Muslim victim soon,” he said.
Referring to himself as an “umpire”, the Chief Minister said that action against those who try to create law and order problem.
The Chief Minister also justified the anti-conversion law introduced by his government. “‘Large-scale illegal conversions are taking place in the state. Even my MLA’s mother was converted to Christianity,” he said.
Mr Bommai also backed former minister KS Eshwarappa, who had to step down from the post after a contractor committed suicide accusing the minister of corruption.
“The corruption allegations against his government were politically motivated. Contractors who allege corruption are backed by the Congress. The minister quit on moral grounds,” he said.
Basavaraj Bommai, who took over from BS Yediyurappa as Chief Minister, completed one year in office on July 28.