Just hours after testing positive for COVID-19 on the morning of Monday, 3 August, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa held a meeting with the top bureaucrats in the state from the hospital. Soon, his office released a video of the CM announcing he is working from the hospital, on social media.
Even though suffering from diabetes and hypertension, which are the most common comorbidities reported in the state, showing himself in control was a priority for the Karnataka chief minister.
After being hospitalised on the advice of doctors, I am in good spirits with mild symptoms. I am grateful for all your good wishes & blessings and will get back to my duties soon. I urge everyone to wear masks, maintain social distance & take all precautions to fight Corona. pic.twitter.com/kmrIkJ02Cq— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) August 3, 2020
"“I have been in touch with all the senior officials from last night itself, to ensure the administration is in no way hampered. I spoke to the officials again today morning. There is no need to panic. I will be cured and return to resume my work as soon as possible.” " - BS Yediyurappa
For 77-year-old Yediyurappa, who has been defending the CM’s chair against multiple attempts to replace him with a candidate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) choice, taking a day off or temporarily handing over charge is not an option; even if he has COVID-19.
Not Handing Over Charge
Yediyurappa’s hurry to hold a meeting with senior bureaucrats, even before settling down at a private hospital, is attributed to his need to be in control. A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that if Yediyurappa had taken even a day to settle down at the hospital, speculations of his replacements would have kickstarted.
He knows that even if temporarily, another person taking over his duties would threaten his position in the government.
And he has his reasons. Ever since he took over as the chief minister, the RSS faction has been trying to undermine him by removing him from the party’s decision making in the state.
Moreover, Yediyurappa tested positive even as the fresh speculations of him being replaced are cooling down. Last week, Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi’s visit to New Delhi, skipping the one-year anniversary of the government, had resulted in fresh rumours of Yediyurappa’s replacement.
This gives Yediyurappa more reasons to ensure his sickness doesn’t affect his position.
A senior minister in the government said that Yediyurappa didn’t want to name anyone as his ‘replacement’ during his treatment. “He is more than 75 years old now and the image of being hospitalised is already bad optics. Someone taking over, even for a while, would make things worse,” he said.
‘Hospital Office’ to Be Up And Running Soon
Sources in the CM’s office said that a full-fledged video conferencing facility will be up and running at the hospital by Tuesday morning. Since the latest relaxation of the lockdown is already in process, no major decision making is expected during the week.
“During his time in hospital, the chief minister also has to monitor and guide the ministers and bureaucrats. He is good health condition and he is quickly adapting to the new environment,” the CM’s office said.
Senior Bureaucrats to Undergo Tests
The chief minister testing positive has raised queries about the quarantining of his Cabinet colleagues and bureaucrats. On Monday morning, senior government officials said that instead of mandatory quarantine, those who were in touch with Chief Minister Yediyurappa will undergo COVID-19 tests.
“Sending the top tier of the bureaucracy to home quarantine is not practical. So, we have identified those who were in CM’s proximity and we will conduct both Rapid Antigen tests and RT-PCR tests. These tests will be conducted on priority. All those who test negative will be allowed to enter work again,” he said.
Sources said Karnataka Chief Secretary Vijay Bhaskar has already undergone the tests and was found to be negative for the coronavirus.
At the same time, the government is tracing those who had come in contact with the chief minister outside of the bureaucracy for testing and isolation.
. Read more on India by The Quint.COVID-Positive Yediyurappa Scrambles to Show He is Still in Charge52,050 New COVID Cases Take India’s Tally to 18.5 L; 38,938 Deaths . Read more on India by The Quint.