Yeddyurappa will continue to spell trouble for BJP (Comment)

August 6th, 2011 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party It is unlikely that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thought its scam-tainted former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa will quietly walk away into the sunset after losing his post.

The very fact that his successor, Sadananda Gowda, has had to insist that he is not Yeddyurappa’s puppet is evidence enough of the strength of the belief that the new chief minister is exactly that. Besides, as the repeated flashing of the two-finger victory sign by Yeddyurappa at Gowda’s swearing-in ceremony showed, the outgoing chief minister will remain a major player in the state, much to the discomfiture of the BJP’s central leaders.

That further problems are in store for them is also evident from the smallness of Gowda’s victory margin in the secret ballot for choosing the legislative party leader. What the narrow margin means is that the party is virtually split right down the middle with the party nominee, Jagadish Shettar, demonstrating that he is a worthy challenger to the Yeddyurappa-Gowda camp.

In fact, with former union minister Ananth Kumar and state’s BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa on Shettar’s side, the rival groups are almost equally matched. In addition, the fact that the Shettar lobby has no intention of hiding its dislike for Gowda was evident from the absence of its supporters at the swearing-in ceremony.

With the battlelines thus clearly drawn, it is only a question of time before there is open confrontation between them although the fact that the two groups are almost equally strong will initially make them tread warily. Instead, they will bide their time till an opportune moment presents itself.

There is little doubt, therefore, that Karnataka will continue to be on the boil with the BJP’s friends and foes waiting to see whether Yeddyurappa is able to keep his promise of reoccupying the chief minister’s chair in six months’ time or whether the Ananth Kumar-Shettar group prevails.

It is apparently the awareness of Yeddyurappa’s clout that made the BJP wait for so long before deciding to remove the powerful Lingayat leader. It was only when Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde’s report left it with no alternative that the BJP finally made its intention known to Yeddyurappa even at the risk of him taking it so badly as to smash senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu’s laptop and slap a hapless bearer of bad news.

It is a fair guess that if the BJP did not have the immediate need at the national level to target the Congress on the latter’s many scams, Yeddyurappa would have been left untouched on the ground that his deeds were immoral rather than illegal, as BJP president Nitin Gadkari had explained.

What also made Yeddyurappa’s departure unavoidable was the scale of the alleged wrong-doings by him and his ministerial colleagues, the infamous Bellary brothers, Karunakara and Janardhana Reddy. They and their third brother Somashekhara’s rags-to-riches story began in 1999 when they helped the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj in her election campaign against Sonia Gandhi. Sushma lost, but she remembered the brothers while the latter also maintained their allegiance to their influential “sister” in the national capital.

An idea of the magnitude of the scandal involving the charges of illegal mining against the brothers can be gauged from Sushma’s absence from Bangalore in their hour of trial. Perhaps realising the damage her decade-long association with them can cause to her future ambitions, Sushma dropped them like hot potatoes only a few weeks ago when she blamed Arun Jaitley (her supposed rival in the power games in Delhi) for the elevation of the brothers.

It was Jaitley and Rajnath Singh - the two had not been on speaking terms for a while before the 2009 general election - who were deputed by the BJP’s national leaders to persuade Yeddyurappa to step down. They may have succeeded, but few will claim that the crisis is over.

There is every possibility that as the noose tightens round the former chief minister and the Bellary brothers with the judiciary’s intervention, the allegations of sleaze directly affecting the BJP may exceed those faced by the Congress. In fact, in the latter’s case, it is the sins of allies like the DMK for which the Congress is paying a price rather than the misdemeanours of its own men.

For the BJP, the much-touted achievement of an essentially north Indian party to break through to the south is proving to be a nightmare. Unlike the Congress, which can claim that it has jailed nearly all the accused - Andimuthu Raja, Kanimozhi, Suresh Kalmadi - and marginalized others like Ashok Chavan and Shashi Tharoor, the BJP knows that Yeddyurappa will not fade away any time soon.

Even if he is unable to become chief minister again, he has the wiliness to break the party. His victory signs hold ominous portents for the BJP.

(06.08.2011 - Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at amulyaganguli@gmail.com)

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