Karnataka Chief Minister BS Bommai became a man of the moment without sound and fury. In a carefully crafted communication strategy, he has been able to counter discontent relating to Cabinet berths, portfolio allocation, and quickly dispelled the initial rumoured image of a puppet CM.
To begin with, he shed the weight of BS Yeddyurappa by removing advisors to BSY. In a notification issued by the Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms (DPAR), ten people were relieved from various positions they held in the previous government. Educationist MR Doreswamy will no longer serve as the government’s advisor on education reforms. Similarly, Beluru Sudarshan has been relieved as the chief minister’s e-governance advisor. Startup investor Prashant Prakash, the CM’s advisor on policy and strategy, was let go. Former MLC Mohan Limbikai, who was BSY’s legal advisor, also had to bid goodbye to the CM’s office.
These advisors could have become Bommai’s burden in the long run because they come from various domains and they being part of the new government could have raises expectations of high performance. In the short term that is left for Bommai to perform as the CM, he cannot afford to set high expectations, which he cannot meet in just under 2 years.
On Cabinet formation, Bommai has faced constant pressures and threats from old-time loyalists as well as legislators who helped install the BJP government in 2019. Those who are continuing to make noise are doing so in the name of people’s demand, which seems ironic because people are fed up with such politicians hankering for power, be it a Cabinet post or lucrative portfolio.
Bommai too acted in the name of people but in a real sense. By stopping the practice of garlanding and presenting flowers to dignitaries at government functions, he responded to public sentiments that such practices have always been considered waste. This is a cultured communication of Bommai because instead of flowers Kannada books have become part of government events.
The new chief minister has also conveyed to the public in an effective communication strategy that he understands their loud thinking by putting an end to traffic restrictions during VIP movement on roads, especially in Bengaluru. Whenever a VIP came out on the streets in his official convoy, other motorists were stopped to make way for the CM’s vehicles. This led to traffic jams on arterial roads of Bengaluu during peak hours, earning the ire of people.
On Independence Day, Bommai came out with his own kind of welfare measures, a dozen of them, and announced the arrival of an independent Brand Bommai.