From Being King To King-Maker BS Yeddyurappa promises to begin a new era in the state
“It is going to be the biggest, and perhaps, toughest challenge, he has ever faced in his political career,” said 86-year-old Shanmukhappa, a peasant from Shikaripura, a taluk headquarters in Shimoga district, when asked about the proposed regional party being floated by former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. After a long pause and gazing at the sky, Shanmukhappa slowly said, “He has been treated very badly in BJP. He is hurt. He cannot suffer insult and humiliation. He is a man who cares for his self-respect. Success has not come to Yeddyurappa easily. He has struggled to get it, and he will get it. He is struggling and he will get success, but with great difficulty,” Shanmukhappa sounded confident but not without pain and agony in his voice. That sums up the mood and mindset of the admirers as well as critics of this stormy petral of Karnataka politics.
Shikaripura is the political home-town of Yeddyurappa, who started his career as a Bharatiya Jana Sangh activist way back in early 60s. As announced, Yeddyurappa resigned from the membership of the Assembly on November 30, which he won with a massive margin in 2008 polls as well as from the primary membership of the BJP, a few days before December 9, the day he is going to demonstrate his political clout in the form of a mammoth rally at Haveri, a district headquarters carved out of erstwhile Dharwad in the Mumbai-Karnataka region. An estimated four to five lakh people from all over the state are expected to take part in the rally to show their solidarity withYeddyurappa, who has rightly come to be described with many epithets such as the man of the masses, friend of the peasants and minorities, hope of the downtrodden and weaker section of society, all due to the innovative and revolutionary schemes evolved by him during his short but eventful tenure as Chief Minister from June 2008 to July 2011 (See box for a glimpse of some of the pro-people schemes evolved by Yeddyurappa and BJP’s victory-spree in various elections during his stint as Chief Minister).
Is Yeddyurappa right in disassociating himself from the BJP, which he has built from the scratch from its erstwhile avatar, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh from early 60s? Is it possible for him to get out of the organisation, which has actually become his persona? Is the situation so unbearable for him that it has made him to take this extreme hard decision? If these are the questions on the personal front, the queries on political front are more inconvenient and harsh.
BJP’S ACHIEVEMENTS DURING YEDDYURAPPA’S STINT
During the stint of BS Yeddyurappa as chief minister from June 2008 to July 2011, the BJP won 19 Lok Sabha seats, the highest in any BJP-ruled state, surpassing even Gujarat in the 2009 parliamentary elections. In fact, it is a record in the sense that no non-Congress party in state has won as many as 19 seats. The highest number of seats won by any non-Congress party, the Janata Dal was 16 in 1996 when HD Deve Gowda was the Chief Minister. Apart from the impressive performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won as many as 14 out of 19 by-elections to the state Assembly. The BJP also scored outright victories in 16 out of 30 Zilla Panchayats, majority of the taluk panchayats. If these enabled BJP to take strong roots in rural areas, the impressive victories in urban local bodies CMCs and TMCs as well as 21 prestigious cooperative institutions made the victory-circle total and complete. But the ignominious defeat of the BJP in the bye-elections to Lok Sabha from Udupi-Chickamagalur constituency after Yeddyurappa demitting office as chief minister is a total contrast. The then Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda—who vacated the Lok Sabha seat to succeed Yeddyurappa could not enable the party to retain the seat. In a way, it was a personal defeat for DV, both on political and administrative fronts.
Given the past instances of regional parties floated by four former Chief Ministers and top leaders failing to take off—Kengal Hanumanthaiah (Surajya Party), D Devaraj Urs (Karnataka Kranti Ranga), S Bangarappa (Karnataka Congress Party) and Ramakrishna Hegde (Lok Shakti)—can Yeddyurappa pull of the near-impossible this time? None of these parties could make any breakthrough in state politics. In this background, what is in store for Yeddyurappa in future? Before venturing to answer this question, it would be appropriate to find out Yeddyurappa’s compulsion to quit BJP and launch his own party.
It is not a secret that the ambitious Yeddyurappa assiduously cultivated his political career to become Chief Minister after years of pro-people struggle, shedding blood and sweat. It is also an open secret, acknowled privately, that Yeddyurappa’s bête noire Ananth Kumar was conspiring from day one to first defame this Shikaripura bull and then see his ouster from the hot seat. It is also an open secret that Ananth Kumar had the capacity to strike a sub-rosa deal with other party leaders to get Yeddyurappa out of chief minister’s post. It is not for nothing that JD (S) supremo HD Deve Gowda, in his press conferences, repeatedly cajoled LK Advani, a politician with an unblemished track record so far as probity is concerned, for “tolerating” Yeddyurappa as chief minister.
It is natural for the people to follow the leader who is on winning spree and who is in power. But it was something unique that several ministers, as many as 75 MLAs, 11 MPs and thousands of party worker and people walked with BS Yeddyurappa from his residence to Raj Bhavan when he trekked to Raj Bhavan. It was an emotional event, something unparallel in political history of the country. It is also something unique of Yeddyurappa that even after demitting office as chief minister, he still commands the love, affection, respect and unstinted loyalty of majority of the MLAs, MPs and thousands of workers. This is something a total contrast to what happened in the past. When the then Congress president Rajiv Gandhi unceremoniously removed Veerendra Patil from chief minister’s post, none of those ministers and MLAs who were loyal to him deserted him he was out of office. The same thing happened when S Bangarappa was shown the door. But in Yeddyurappa’s case, it is something different, which is a sure sign of him being a mass leader and inevitable to electoral victory.
This was “effectively” used by Ananth Kumar to instigate Advani, who in turn, mounted pressure on Gadkari to get rid of Yeddyurappa at the earliest. The fact that Advani refused to meet Yeddyurappa when the latter knocked at his doors goes on to show the deep animosity the former has for the latter, thanks to the prodding by Ananth Kumar, who has come to be described as the blue-eyed boy of Advani. There is an element of truth that Ananth Kumar could have used Advani’s name to bring pressure on the then Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde a great admirer of the BJP veteran, to indict Yeddyurappa in his report on illegal mining.
It is on the basis of this highly prejudiced and unfair report of Justice Santosh Hegde that Yeddyurappa’s resignation was obtained, a clear case of deep-rooted conspiracy for which Yeddyurappa fell a victim. It is ironical that the same report has been quashed by the Karnataka High Court, after which Yeddyurappa ought to have been reinstated. But the “conspirators” had decided not to entertain him once again. That was the beginning of the end of Yeddyurappa’s stint in the BJP.
PROGRAMMES AND SCHEMES
There was a logical flow and a practical link between the revolutionary and unique programmes/schemes evolved by BS Yeddyurappa and the three budgets presented by him during his stint as the Chief Minister. “The budget is sarva sparshi and sarva vyapi in the sense that no section or strata of society remain untouched. This will prove to be a strong foundation for the wholesome development of Karnataka,” Yeddyurappa had said, after presenting his maiden budget in 2009. Yeddyurappa had, indeed, implemented Deenadayal Upadhyaya’s concept of taking care of the interest of the “poorest of the poor” (Antyodaya) by announcing and implementing numerous programmes for all sections of society, especially the weaker section and the downtrodden.
Apart from achieving the near-possible task of raising the budget size from Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 72,000 crore and then to Rs 87,000 crore, further aiming to increase to Rs one lakh crore, Yeddyurappa ensured that benefits of his schemes and programmes reach the needy. As of now, as many 1.92 crore families are directly benefitted by one scheme or the other.
A glimpse of some of the revolutionary schemes conceived by Yeddyurappa, which have proved to be epoch-making.
- Bicycle to students (both boys and girls) of high school: This has resulted in stopping the school dropout and also enhanced the admission to schools. Moreover, Yeddyurappa has made every boy and girl proud in the sense that they go to school on bicycles!
- Farm loans at zero per cent from cooperative and nationalised banks, which is something unique and unheard of anywhere in the country.
- Giving Rs 2 to each litre of milk this has empowered the rural women and has enabled them to earn not less than Rs 1500 to Rs 1800 per month only by milk.
- Fillip to organic farming: As many as 10 lakh farmers have adopted this traditional Bharatiya farming method thus reducing the dependence on pesticides; something which is urgently needed in farm sector. Yeddyurappa, in fact, stayed in the residence of farmers who have adopted organic farming every fourth Sunday of the month in order to encourage them to take to organic farming.
- Bhagyalakshmi Scheme: Government purchases a bond of Rs 38,000 in the name of every girl child born in a BPL family. The maturity amount of the bond is Rs 2 lakh when the girl child attains the age of 18. This amount is to be utilised only for her higher studies. Lakhs of women belonging to BPL class yearn for girl child, which has potential to reduce the widening male: female ratio. The World Health Organisation had complimented the Karnataka BJP government for conceiving this scheme.
- Conceiving as well as completing the construction of a sophisticated Haj House at the cost of Rs 40 crore, which has helped minority brethren prepare for their pilgrimage.
- Starting 40 hostels and 15 residential schools for women belonging to SCs, BCs and minorities.
- Increasing the monthly pension for widows, old-age and physically challenged from Rs 100 to Rs 500 and then to Rs 750.
- The Planning Commission had complimented the Yeddyurappa government for best fiscal management, not once but thrice.
- The RBI had expressed satisfaction over the fiscal management and complimented Yeddyurappa, who was holding the finance portfolio.
- As many as sixteen under passes and flyovers were conceived and completed by Yeddyurappa during the record 30 months time in Bengaluru which was complimented by the Union Ministry of Urban Development.
- Yeddyurappa government received award thrice from the Union Ministry of Rural Development for effective implementation of various schemes.
There are numerous instances where some among the BJP central leadership deliberately created problems for Yeddyurappa through “their” people in the state unit, only to see that the government is always on perpetual tenterhooks and Yeddyurappa does not settle down as an “effective and efficient Chief Minister”. An English maxim goes: “I can take care of my enemies, only God must save me from my friends.” This is true with Yeddyurappa. By his Chanakyan approach, Yeddyurappa had successfully put his political enemies, the wily Deve Gowda on the mat, and had reduced the Congress leaders to giving sound bytes and not really bite him. But Yeddyurappa could not handle his “friends” within his party, especially Ananth Kumar, KS Eshwarappa and DV Sadananda Gowda, all the three proved to be the proverbial “snake in the grass”. If Yeddyurappa asks a question, can he continue to work in the party where his own colleagues suffer from “Brutus Syndrome” (stabbing from the back), that too to a person who has shed his blood and sweat for the last four decades, then the reply, invariably, is in the negative. And this is what Yeddyurappa is going to make to lakhs of people at Haveri and says, loud, clear and categorical, that, in turn, should resound in the Assembly elections.
BS Yeddyurappa has a point when he says that the vested interests in the BJP central leadership always wanted to keep him on perpetual tenterhooks, lest he become a powerful and strong Chief Minister like his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi. This stormy petrel of Karnataka politics is of the view that if Narendra Modi has done a wonderful job as Chief Minister, it is because he has managed to insulate himself and his government from the pulls, pressures and constant pinpricks from the BJP high command. It is a well-known fact that the brain and spine behind the rebellion of the Reddy brothers for two times which almost and nearly brought down the government was none other than Ananth Kumar. Instead of showing Ananth Kumar “the place he deserves”, the BJP high command, instead, danced to the tunes of Ananth Kumar and thereby allowed the image and credibility of the BJP government to get damaged. It was criminal on the part of BJP central leadership to take as many as 10 precious days to resolve the crisis, especially when the entire North Karnataka region had faced the worst flood of the century.
This Brutus Syndrome of some influential people in the BJP, because of which he is a victim, seems to be a convincing and credible reason for him to quit BJP and float a political outfit of his own. Those who say that regional party has not succeeded in the past and hence it would be “an extravagant exercise in utter futility” on the part of Yeddyurappa to launch a regional political outfit of his own, are not entirely correct. History can always repeat, with a qualitative change. In early 80s and 90s, the attempts by leaders to launch regional outfits failed because national parties still had some relevance and clout over the electorate; they could fire the imagination of the people by some slogan-mongering. But, of late, the people have realised that the national parties—Congress and BJP—have their own internal contradictions and inadequacies, not to mention of hidden quid pro quo arrangements, that has not done any justice to the people of the state.
“IT IS BETTER TO FIGHT AGAINST HONEST ENEMIES INSTEAD OF BEINGIN THE MIDST OF DISHONEST FRIENDS”—BS Yeddyurappa
Beating the odds and surviving from the worst crises seem to have become second nature to BS Yeddyurappa. The first-ever BJP Chief Minister in the southern state of Karnataka, Yeddyurappa talked to Prakash Nanda about his decision to form a new party. Excerpts:
What exactly is the reason for you to quit BJP and form a party of your own?
I have a dream of “Kalyana Karnataka”, a prosperous state. I am trying to realise it through my own party.
Why can you not achieve through BJP?
I was stopped mid-way by my own people. I was very badly let down by my own party. So, I thought let me try to realise my dream through my own party.
You said your party people let you down very badly. But is it not because of the charges of corruption?
It is as clear as the daylight that the charges and allegations are politically motivated only to curb my growth. Look at the frenzy and the speed with which the cases were filed one after the other. I can understand the opposition parties making charges but I was shocked when my own party people joined hands with my political opponents.
Can you cite a few instances?
BJP president KS Eshwarappa repeatedly said that I was facing charges and hence I should not campaign in the by-elections. Is this the way a party president protect his own men? It was the most unkindest cut of all. It was a conspiracy all the way, to unseat me.
Can you explain the conspiracy angle?
At the fag end of the report by the Lokayukta, one case was mentioned on the basis of which my resignation was obtained. Later, the Karnataka High Court quashed the Lokayukta’s report, after which I ought to have been reinstated. But I was denied on the ground that more cases were pending against me. So, getting my name mentioned in the Lokayukta’s report was a deep-rooted plot to unseat me.
You had once mentioned that the Congress treats its leaders in a better way. Can you explain?
I will give you two instances. There were charges against Salman Khurshid. The Congress party defended him and later gave him an important portfolio of the Ministry of External Affairs. His critics were silenced. There were charges against Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. The Congress party stood by her and did not obtain her resignation. But in my case, my own party men, some in Bengaluru and some in Delhi to see my exit. This is nothing but back-stabbing.
It looks like you have a soft corner towards Congress.
Do not read too much into my statement. I have quoted these only as incidents.
Do you want to take revenge against the BJP?
Revenge is negative politics, I am going ahead with positive agenda to make Karnataka a number one model state in the country.
But if the party is ready to give you back the chief ministership, why don’t you accept?
There is no question of that now. Earlier too I was taken for a ride. I have gone ahead too far in giving shape to my idea of a prosperous Karnataka through my own party. In my party I can have free hand, without the pulls and pressures from any quarters.
But does it not pain you to go away from the party which you have built for the last 40 years?
I have realised that it is easy to face and fight against the honest enemies instead of being in the midst of dishonest friends. Moreover, I am concerned to wipe the tears of the farmers, weaker section and downtrodden of society. Removing their pain is more important to me than being emotional and sentimental.
You said some BJP leaders in Delhi and Bengaluru plotted against you. Can you name them?
Everybody knows, Ananth Kumar, Eshwarappa and others such as DV Sadananda Gowda openly snubbed me.
What about Advani?
I have repeatedly said that Ananth Kumar has spoilt the mind of Advani. Ananth Kumar nurses the ambition of becoming the Chief Minister. There is nothing wrong in that ambition but it should be through a proper process of getting projected before the polls and then win.
Recently you attacked party president Nitin Gadkari also. What is the reason?
I did not ask for any post, when the discussions took place in Delhi. He (Gadkari) himself told me that I would be made the party president. But he went back on his words, obviously under pressure from some people. Is this the way a party president conducts? Now he is facing charges but continue to remain in the post. Why this double-standard and two diffferent yardstick, one for me and another for others?
So, you mean to say that the BJP central leadership is unfair to you.
Of course, yes. But now I am not bothered. I am more concerned about building my own party to realise my dream.
What about your relationship with the RSS and Sangh Pariwar?
I will continue to have respects towards all those people, organisations and associations working for the welfare of the people.
Including the RSS.
I think I have said what I wanted to say. Your question has been answered.
Will your party have an electoral understanding with the Congress, because you are dead opposed to JD(S) and BJP?
My party’s understanding will be with the people of Karnataka.
Karnataka’s political history says that regional parties have no chance. What do you have got to say?
What happened three decades or two decades ago need not hold good now. I will prove that history can be changed for the better. I do not claim to be superior leader to those who made attempts to start a regional party in the past. I come from a humble farmer’s family. But I think the time was not ripe in late 70s, early 80s and early 90s to start a political party because national parties still had some clout and reach. But of late, it has been proved that both the national parties have their own compulsions and priorities. Time is now ripe to launch a political party.
This is not to suggest that Yeddyurappa is far superior in size and stature than those who attempted to form regional parties in the past and failed. The point is that the very atmosphere of politics, both in the country and within the two national parties, is sufficient enough for Yeddyyurappa to ignite the minds of the people and fire their imagination. It should not be ignored that Yeddyurappa is also a mass leader like Hanumanthaiah, Urs, Hegde and Bangarappa but this Shikaripura bull has something more of a firm grip over an influential community, which inhabit a vast tract of land, and a crucial clout over small but numerically significant communities such as Muslims, SCs/STs, BCs of Karnataka. This is what makes his admirers to fondly hope that Yeddyurappa could successfully pull off with his regional outfit, a nightmare for his detractors. It is also not surprising that an ambitious man with instinct of a workaholic like Yeddyurappa is impressed by the political clout and electoral numbers of the AIADMK, DMK, SP, TMC, Shiv Sena, and TDP, by which these regional parties have been playing a dominant role in national politics.
YEDDYURAPPA MAY PLAY SPOILSPORT FOR BJP IN KARNATAKA
Will he? Won’t he? Karnataka BJP strong man BS Yeddyurappa kept saying in recent weeks that he would quit the party and float a regional outfit. Many thought it was political brinkmanship seeking to force the party central leadership to buckle under pressure and make him state unit president and project him as chief ministerial candidate in next year’s elections.
A significant section of the party thought he would eventually make peace with the high command and give up his plans. But things appeared to have moved much beyond, and time to bite the bullet has come! Yeddyurappa has announced that he would quit the party on November 30 and formally launch the Karnataka Janata Paksha at a huge rally at Haveri on December 9.
The central BJP appears to be making last-ditch efforts to retain him. The central BJP let it known off the record that a decision has been taken to make the state unit president and also make him chief minister after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
But once-bitten-twice-shy Yeddyurappa wants the party to make a public pronouncement. He wants the BJP to make the announcement on making him the state unit president. He can’t wait till 2014. He wants the party to announce that it will project him as the chief ministerial candidate in the Assembly elections, due just six months away.
Yeddyurappa has reason to feel betrayed by the party’s central leaders. He had to quit some 16 months ago after the Karnataka Lokayukta indicted him in his report on illegal mining that had grabbed headlines at the time. It’s no exaggeration that Yeddyurappa had to pay the heavy price because of the circumstances at the time as BJP did not want its anti-corruption campaign against the Congress to suffer. Every time, the BJP took up the series of scams and scandals, Congress leaders used to point finger at Yeddyurappa, asking BJP what it did vis-à-vis allegations against Yeddyurappa.
The central BJP which was going hammer and tongs at the Congress on corruption scandals found Yeddyurappa a thorn in its flesh and forced him to quit. Burning bridges with party stalwart LK Advani saw to it that he had no other option. It’s no secret that Yeddyurappa does not see eye-to-eye with Advani. Even though Yeddyurappa recently publicly apologised to Advani for criticising him, it was too late. Yeddyurappa’s plumping for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and favouring his projection as the Prime Ministerial candidate has not gone unnoticed.
“Has any court found me guilty? Has any court convicted me? When I look back, I believe I made a mistake by resigning as Chief Minister,” an angry Yeddyurappa has repeatedly said. He has also targeted state unit president KS Eshwarappa and senior party leader HN Ananth Kumar for hatching a conspiracy against him, and for misguiding the central leadership.
There is some truth in Yeddyurappa’s contention. With Yeddyurappa around, Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar could never aspire to become Chief Minister. “More than opposition leaders, it was my own party men who stabbed me in the back,” Yeddyurappa has lamented.
But Yeddyurappa ensured that his hand-picked man, DV Sadananda Gowda, succeeded him. But once in the chair, Gowda sought to consolidate his position and sought to cut Yeddyurappa to size much to the latter’s chagrin. Yeddyurappa yet again proved that as far as Karnataka is concerned, he called the shots as he installed Jagadish Shettar, in place of Gowda, who had to resign following a rebellion fuelled by Yeddyurappa.
It may not be entirely correct to say that Yeddyurappa is formally launching the party in December. KJP was in existent last year though it has not made electoral debut, and not many heard of this party till recently. There is also speculation that Yeddyurappa had foreseen the events and was actually the man behind the idea of starting the party.
It’s too early to say what impact KJP will make on the political scene in Karnataka, particularly in the Assembly elections, slated in May next year. But many believe that the polls could throw up a fractured verdict, and KJP could play a key role in the event of a hung assembly.
Having distanced himself from the BJP and bad-mouthing the party in no small measure, Yeddyurappa will not go with it after the elections; neither will he come closer to Janata Dal (Secular) of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. Sources in the KJP have indicated that Yeddyurappa may side with the Congress if it’s short of numbers.
He is sure to damage the prospects of the BJP in no small measure in Karnataka. For the BJP, eyeing to bag more than 20 seats in Lok Sabha elections as and when they are held, this is surely a big blow.
Central and state party leaders are putting up a brave front. They are preparing for post-Yeddyurappa phase in the party. But there is no denying that there is no leader in Karnataka, who can match Yeddyurappa’s stature. Yeddyurappa has been the face of the BJP in Karnataka for long.
It’s interesting to see how many legislators will go with Yeddyurappa. There is near unanimity among the ruling party legislators that none want an early election. With its image having taken a severe beating, BJP needs time to shore up its prospects. But, as some said, things can’t get worse for the party.
Already there are signs of party-hopping. The Congress seems to be in demand. Congress leaders have realised that infighting did them in Karnataka, and this time they are going to put up a united show. The entry of SM Krishna, who recently quit as External Affairs Minister, and set to join state politics, has added a new twist to the scheme of things.
But it’s clear that BJP is headed for a split, with a section certainly siding with Yeddyurappa. Only time will tell as to how many Ministers and MLAs would walk out with him. As they say, anything can happen in politics. The situation is fluid and it seems clarity would emerge as the election nears.
The BJP has itself to blame for the present crisis. The writing had been on the wall in the Karnataka unit for quite some time, and the party’s central leadership, itself ridden with factionalism, failed to stem the tide. Those who want Yeddyurappa to go from the party seem to be having upper hand.
Yeddyurappa also has considerable support from the party’s Lok Sabha members, many of whom owe their victory in the last elections to Yeddyurappa’s clout with the voters. What the BJP is worried about is its prospects in the next Lok Sabha elections. It was betting big on Karnataka and now it appears its dream has been shattered. It’s difficult to guess now how things would pan out in the future. But suffice to say that the BJP did not get its acts together, and allowed things to go out of hand.
A section of analysts believes the Congress is in a better footing compared to other parties in Karnataka. Saddled with anti-incumbency, BJP is sure to suffer reverses and if the people are to make up their mind to vote for stability, they may back the Congress. Not because Congress is any better but because, it’s a better of the lot.
The third party of significance in Karnataka, JD(S) has been quietly consolidating and would be a force to reckon with but no body in their wildest dreams expects JD(S) to come to power on its own. It’s facing rebellion in Hassan district, a party stronghold, as some party men have challenged the supremacy of Deve Gowda’s another son, HD Revanna, who has been calling the shots there.
So, things are hotting up on the Karnataka political landscape like never before. It’s going to be a bitter contest for sure, and it looks like disadvantage-BJP right now. But as they say politics makes strange bedfellows and one has to keep the fingers crossed. One thing is sure: Yeddyurappa may be walking out of the BJP but he could end up a king-maker. Who knows!
The Congress has been out of power for long. Another defeat would mean a deadly blow. But infighting is a perennial problem in the Congress. There are many chief ministerial hopefuls in the Congress. SM Krishna’s entry has added to this.
But the focus would undoubtedly be on Yeddyurappa and his moves for some time to come. A born fighter, he is not the one who takes things lying down. You can like or dislike him but you certainly can’t ignore him in politics. And let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind: The last word on Yeddyurappa has not been said. And many say as far as Yeddyurappa is concerned, best is yet to come. And as they say: when things get tough, the tough get going. And there is no doubt that Yeddyurappa is a tough customer in the field of politics.
By Rajesh Kamath from Bengaluru
“Electoral massacre” is the phrase used by Advani years ago to describe Congress party’s defeat in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections in the aftermath of the Emergency. That phrase can be once again used to describe the BJP’s pathetic situation in the aftermath of the 2013 Assembly elections, given the fact that Yeddyurappa is going to decimate and devastate BJP. But Yeddyurappa prefers to put it in a rather diplomatic way: “I am not bothered who is going to be defeated. I am concerned only about my party’s victory.”
By Prakash Nanda from Shimoga
YEDDYURAPPA’S GAMBLE COULD BE SUICIDAL
BS Yeddyurappa may be garnering media limelight and drawing a huge number of eyeballs but many analysts believe the move to leave the BJP and start his own regional outfit could be suicidal.
Yeddyurappa camp cites DMK, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and parties such as Telugu Desam and YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, among others, as they make out a strong case for a regional outfit in Karnataka. But history suggests that regional parties floated in the past in Karnataka were not able to sustain themselves.
But the exception is former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) which has held on its own but not grown to capture power on its own strength. Moreover, it’s perceived as a caste-based (Vokkaligas) party largely confined to some districts, though it has been making vigorous attempts to spread its influence in other parts of the state.
In quicksand of politics, Yeddyurappa appears to be over-ambitious. He is counting on the support of Lingayats, a dominant caste in the state, but it’s foolhardy to believe that this community would back him en masse.
It’s true that more than one-third of party legislators, including nearly a dozen ministers, were present at a recent meeting convened by him and got their backing to break away from the BJP. But how many of them will eventually walk out with him is the moot question.
While Yeddyurappa has played a key role in BJP’s growth in Karnataka, the party has also rewarded him with prominent positions, including chief ministership. Instead of utilising the mandate to bolster the image of the BJP, Yeddyurappa got himself embroiled in corruption scandals which finally did him in.
In politics, patience pays but Yeddyurappa is not known to have such a quality in him, particularly in recent years. He has been accused of nepotism and favouritism when he was Chief Minister, and many alleged that only a chosen few benefited during his regime.
In the chair, Yeddyurappa was not what he used to be before. And when the crunch time came, they deserted him. And to entirely blame the high command for his plight, Yeddyurappa is being unfair. He has to take major part of the blame for his “arrogance” and failure to take everybody along during his tenure.
Some are already predicting that his venture is bound to fail. A strong cadre-based party like BJP can successfully stand up to the challenge of Yeddyurappa if it gets its acts together. Yeddyurappa may be another Kalyan Singh or Uma Bharti in the making as he is likely to come back into the party hold eventually. Despite the bravado, it’s quite possible that Yeddyurappa would finally make peace with the party, but it may not happen before the Assembly elections, where he wants to test his strength.
A poor response to his venture—Karnataka Janata Paksha—will lead to political polarisation. It’s quite evident that Yeddyurappa will not fit into either the Congress or the JD(S) and it leaves him with no option but to embrace the BJP again.