Winter of instability as Yeddyurappa gets bail (News Analysis)

November 8th, 2011 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Nov 8 (IANS) Karnataka seemed headed for more political instability Tuesday with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) back to bickering on its leadership issues within hours of its former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa getting bail in two corruption cases.

While one section of the BJP talks of “collective leadership”, the other choruses that “Yeddyurappa is the party’s unquestioned leader”.

Bail to Yeddyurappa, granted by the high court Tuesday, has come at an opportune time for his loyalists who can continue to project him as the undisputed leader.

This unabashed exercise is in spite of the fact that he could still be arrested in three more cases of corruption and illegal land deals. The 68-year-old BJP leader has sought anticipatory bail in the three cases.

Also, the Supreme Court is being moved against the bail granted to him in the two cases.

The platform to find “who is the real leader in Karnataka BJP” is the Nov 30 bypoll to the Bellary rural assembly constituency reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Bellary, the iron-ore rich district about 300 km from here, has been the political stronghold of arrested mining baron and former Karnataka minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his brothers.

The election follows resignation from the assembly of Reddy’s associate and former health minister B. Sriramulu.

Sriramulu has kept the state BJP leadership on tenterhooks by dropping hints that he will contest as an independent unless he is assured of a ministerial berth in the D.V. Sadananda Gowda cabinet that succeeded Yeddyurappa’s on Aug 4.

Yeddyurappa quit July 31 after then Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommended his trial for corruption in the illegal mining scandal.

Sriramulu was not included in the Gowda cabinet as he was also indicted by Hegde. Claiming the indictment in illegal mining scam has hurt his “image”, Sriramulu quit the assembly though the real reason was said to be his unhappiness at not being made a minister again.

Gowda, Yeddyurappa’s choice to succeed him, is struggling to establish his authority over his cabinet as more than half of the ministers are loyalists of the former chief minister.

They boycotted senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s Oct 30 public meeting here as part of his Jan Chetna Yatra, anti-corruption roadshow.

Soon after the high court granted bail, Gowda told reporters in New Delhi that he would seek guidance from Yeddyurappa “to carry forward the good work of the former chief minister”.

“Bail to Yeddyurappa will not affect my government. He is our senior leader and I am confident that charges against him will be proved false and he will be acquitted by the courts,” Gowda said. He was in Delhi to woo investments in the agriculture sector.

In Bangalore, state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa, known to belong to the anti-Yeddyurappa group in the party, told reporters that the Bellary election would be fought under the “collective leadership”.

“Our central leaders have already decided that all elections will be fought under collective leadership,” he said, when asked about Yeddyurappa loyalists’ repeated statements that he will lead the campaign.

Eshwarappa, however, added that “Yeddyurappa is innocent. He will prove it in the courts. Our collective leadership includes him also as he our senior leader”.

The state BJP chief had met Yeddyurappa in jail Monday but denied he went there to discuss who should be the party candidate in the Bellary bypoll.

Sriramulu was in Hyderabad Tuesday to meet Reddy in the Chanchalaguda jail to seek his advice on whether to be BJP candidate or fight as an independent. Reddy has been in the Hyderabad jail since Sep 5 in connection illegal mining cases in Andhra Pradesh.

The last date for filing nominations for the bypoll is Nov 11. The result will be out Dec 4 and at least till then the ruling party will be busy in settling its own issues, virtually leaving governance of the state to the bureaucracy.

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