Exactly a month after announcing a target of 150 seats for the Karnataka BJP in the 2023 assembly elections, Union Minister Amit Shah arrived in the city late on Monday, this time amid speculation about possible leadership changes and pressure to reshuffle or expand the cabinet.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and several of his cabinet colleagues, as well as Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, greeted him at the city’s HAL airport.
With less than a year until the assembly elections, Shah is likely to encounter senior party leaders such as Bommai and B S Yediyurappa during this trip, and assess the BJP’s preparations for the elections.
On Tuesday, the leaders are expected to meet for lunch at Bommai’s official residence, followed by an evening meeting at the party state office.
“He (Shah) is on his way, and I will meet him. He will try to learn about the state’s political situation. With state elections on the horizon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have decided to prioritise Karnataka. He is likely to make recommendations on how to achieve the 150-seat target that we have set for the assembly elections.” said Yediyurappa.
On Tuesday, Shah will attend several events, including the valedictory function of the ‘Khelo India’ University Games, as well as pay tributes to Basavanna, a 12th-century social reformer and Lingayat saint, on the occasion of Basava Jayanthi.
Lingayats are a dominant community with a significant presence across the state and are regarded as the BJP’s strong vote bank.
Other events he is scheduled to attend include the inauguration and laying of foundation stones for various projects, including the Nrupathunga University, the e-inauguration of the Bellari Forensic Science Laboratory, and the inauguration of the Bengaluru NATGRID Campus.
There are currently five vacancies in the state cabinet, which has 29 ministers, including the chief minister, rather than the sanctioned 34.
Some legislators have even advocated for a Gujarat-style cabinet reshuffle soon, in order to make room for new faces ahead of the assembly elections.
The cabinet meeting will be critical ahead of the assembly elections, in which the saffron party hopes to reclaim power and has set a target of winning at least 150 seats in the 225-member House.
The visit also comes amid renewed speculation about a change in leadership in the state.