The new Karnataka Chief Minister, Basavaraj Bommai, faces perhaps his first big challenge since being sworn in late last month. Mr Bommai is battling discontent within his cabinet as a handful of ministers, including Tourism and Environment Minister Anand Singh, push for different portfolios.
From Hosapete in the state’s Vijayanagara district a video has emerged – of a signboard outside Anand Singh’s office being removed. The widely-shared video is being seen as a message from the former Congress MLA, who earlier this week openly expressed his unhappiness.
“Today I have lost the hope and expectation that I had for my protection… but I have not lost my confidence. I have made my request to each person I needed to… but not in public. Within four walls I have expressed my feelings and difficulties,” he said.
Mr Singh has been visiting temples in his home district.
On Monday he told reporters: “Whatever request I made has not been met. As a party person, I am not prepared to comment. I will meet the Chief Minister and make my request once more.”
The Chief Minister has said he will work things out with the man he describes as his old friend.
“Anand Singh has been my friend for three decades. I spoke to him yesterday… I will speak to him today also. Everything will be fine once he comes and we talk,” Mr Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru.
Anand Singh was one of the Congress MLAs who jumped to the BJP in 2019 – a switch that triggered the collapse of the then ruling Congress-JDS coalition.
And he isn’t the only one from that pack to express unhappiness over his ministerial posting.
MTB Nagaraj, who has been put in charge of municipal administration and sugarcane, is also reportedly unhappy. “I have told our Chief Minister about it. He has said – ‘go on with the work now. Let us see what can be done in the coming days’. I am putting my faith in him,” he said.
“I have spoken to MTB Nagaraj. There is no problem there,” the Chief Minister said.
Days after the August 4 cabinet reshuffle the Chief Minister had addressed early reports of some ministers’ dissatisfaction saying: “Everyone can’t get the portfolios they want.”
The collapse of the Congress-JDS coalition in 2019 brought BS Yediyurappa to power – and he promised the MLAs who jumped ship their due rewards. The task of making that happen, it seems, has been left to Mr Bommai.