BJP’s latest dilemma: Yeddyurappa?
Senior leader L.K. Advani’s attempt to distance the Bharatiya Janata Party from the former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa appears to be a decision which both Advani and his party may have to regret subsequently. Yeddy is not merely a BJP activist but a leader with a huge mass base particularly amongst his Lingayat community. Unlike most BJP leaders both at the Centre and in various states, he enjoys the backing of a large number of people. His supporters now have got the feeling that the party should not have taken such a strident stand against him given that the former CM is yet to be convicted in any of the cases against him. It was one thing for the courts to jail him pending his bail request but for the party and its top leader to condemn him so outrightly and that too prematurely is something, which was hard to digest.
Karnataka has been one state, which has sent more BJP MPs to Lok Sabha than any other state in the country. Like YSR in Andhra for the Congress, Yeddy was the key man for the BJP in Karnataka. This was made possible not as much because of the policies of the Saffron brigade but because the Lingayat community stood steadfast behind their strongman. As recent events have shown, within the BJP, a faction led by Ananth Kumar, four time Lok Sabha MP from South Bangalore and Advani’s right hand man who is also accompanying him in the Rath Yatra, was of the opinion that Yeddy should be changed. The objective was to bring in Ananth Kumar as the chief minister of the State. This was not allowed to happen by the former CM and his supporters who instead put their weight behind Sadanand Gowda, a Vokkaliga as his successor.
After the latest instance which led to the arrest of Yeddy, Gowda and his colleagues in the ministry recognizing his political importance went to see him in hospital where he was shifted from the Jail.
But the timing of his arrest has upset Advani’s whose Yatra against corruption has received a major setback. Therefore Advani chose to distance himself from the Karnataka strongman soon after he entered Nagpur, also the headquarters of the RSS. His attack on the former CM on one hand is to present himself as the custodian of high moral values and on the other is to weaken him in order to subsequently pave the way for Ananth Kumar’s takeover. This is where he has miscalculated.
The Congress has been on the front foot in its attack on the BJP especially after Yeddy’s arrest but the BJP has so far not retaliated in full force making only muted voices demanding the arrest and resignation of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit who faces a series of irregularity charges in the Commonwealth Games following the CAG report and the report of the Shunglu committee appointed by the Prime Minister. What is interesting is that some of the Karnataka supporters of Yeddy are alleging that Advani and his coterie have an understanding with the Delhi CM and therefore have been going soft on the demand for his scalp. The whole thing sounds ridiculous but it is a viewpoint of some in the BJP.
What the party and RSS fears is that if Yeddy is not given adequate legal help, he could harm the party in his home state. If there is a mid term poll, the Karnataka strongman could break away from his Saffron roots and float a regional outfit. This is something that the BJP cannot afford to do in its only Southern State.
While everyone favours that the rule of law should prevail, many BJP leaders are of the opinion that Yeddy has to be handled very deftly. Otherwise the Lingayats could revolt against the party. Whether this assumption is true or false is something only time will tell.