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Yeddyurappa survives; but faces uncertain future
Published on 9 Nov. 2009 10:59 PM IST
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Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has survived the threat to his chair from powerful dissidents but faces an uncertain future in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which he had thought of leaving five years ago. The truce brokered by the central leadership to make mining barons and ministers G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother G. Karunakara Reddy give up their demand for Yeddyurappa’s removal appears tenuous. It also reduces Yeddyurappa to a nominal chief minister as a coordination panel will whet all major decisions by him. The coordination panel will have representatives from both camps and is likely to be headed by senior leader Sushma Swaraj, who the Reddy brothers call ‘thayi’ (mother). The image of both the BJP and Yeddyurappa has taken a heavy beating -- at a time about a million flood-hit people in north Karnataka are waiting for rehabilitation. This may force Yeddyurappa to even start thinking that the BJP itself may not have much of a future in the state, which it considered as gateway to southern India. While the chief minister has to blame himself for the miserable plight he and the party are in in Karnataka, the BJP’s central leadership too has a share of responsibility for not realising that you-owe-me reminders follow help and support in politics. Yeddyurappa had thought of quitting the BJP a few months after the 2004 assembly elections. Though BJP emerged the single largest party, winning 79 in the 225 member house, it could not form the government as the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) joined hands to form a coalition government. A frustrated Yeddyurappa, who thought the BJP had peaked in the state, approached JD-S leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to explore the possibility of joining that party. The wheel of fortune turned full circle two years later. Kumaraswamy walked out of the JD-S with a large number of legislators to align with the BJP and formed a coalition government with himself as chief minister and Yeddyurappa as his deputy. After 20 months, he did not hand over the chief minister’s chair as agreed. And Yeddyurappa exploited the ‘betrayal’ to the hilt in the elections held in May 2008 and the BJP came very close to absolute majority by winning 110 seats. Yeddyurappa did not hesitate to take the help of the rich Reddy brothers to lure six Independents to gain majority and form the government with himself as chief minister on May 30, 2008. As a reward five Independents were made ministers. The Reddys again used their financial clout to win over Congress and JD-S legislators. Over a half a dozen responded and got elected on BJP ticket in by-polls. BJP on its own got 117 members in the assembly and Yeddyurappa was proud to have given the party its first government in south India. The central leadership hailed his achievement. But the euphoria was too good to last. The Reddys began fuming at not being rewarded with plum posts and near decisive say in running the party and the government for their efforts in cobbling up clear majority for the party in the state. They sounded the war cry Oct 26. A BJP central leadership caught in its own turf and succession war came as an added bonus for the Reddys’ battle to be masters of the party down south. The only consolation for the BJP is that the Congress unit in Karnataka is also rudderless and caught in its own war of “original Congressmen” versus “migrants”, those who joined the party in recent years from other parties. The JD-S is busy battling irrelevance, a fate BJP’s first chief minister in south India faces within 18 months of being in power.

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