Yeddyurappa has his way, for now
By Ramu Patil - BANGALORE
Published: 29th Jul 2012 10:32:11 AM
Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa is a back-bencher in the state Assembly. Sitting in one corner of the majestic Assembly hall, he looks over Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s shoulders to face the Opposition, while keenly watching the BJP ministers and legislators.
The place where he sits in the Assembly speaks volumes about the BJP strongman’s current position within his party and Karnataka politics. After putting his man at the helm of affairs in the state, the Lingayat leader has donned the role of a ‘back-seat driver’ or that of a ‘super CM’.
In the ongoing Legislature session, the Lingayat strongman catapulted into the centre stage in the Assembly when he castigated the BJP government and forced it to announce farm loan waiver. Yet again proving that as far as the BJP government in Karnataka, he calls the shot. His 55-minutes speech sent a clear message to the party high command, as well as Opposition Congress and JD(S), that they can ill-afford to ignore him.
The former chief minister who had for the first time presented a separate Agriculture budget for farmers in 2011 had always played the ‘farmers card’ throughout his political life spanning over three decades. He did the same when he pulled up ministers and bureaucrats for ‘inept’ handling of the prevailing drought situation.
“The government should identify 30 lakh poor farming families that have been severely hit by the drought and provide them financial aid of `5,000 to each of them as they are in need of financial support and many of them do not even have money to buy fodder,” Yeddyurappa said
He even went to the extent of saying that the administration has become ‘lethargic’ and has failed to respond to the people’s problems. Political observers say when he criticised the government his target was his friend-turned foe and former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda.
According to political observers, Yeddyurappa, at one stroke hit out at his detractors within the party and also silenced the Opposition that was planing to corner the government for its failure to tackle drought situation.
But, strangely the BJP leader who is facing a series of corruption charges and being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was soft on the Centre. In fact, at one stage he was sounding like speaking for the the UPA government at the Centre. “Instead of approaching the Centre for grants, let us first try to do what we can. Centre is willing to give enough funds to tackle drought and other schemes,” Yeddyurappa said.
The BJP leaders may have felt embarrassed by sharp criticism from one of its senior leaders, but none expressed their displeasure openly. In fact, when Shettar announced the farm loan waiver, he went on to say on the floor of the Upper House that “I have conceded all the demands Yeddyurappa had made in the Assembly including that of farm loan waiver.”
Yeddyurappa, who is currently entangled in a number of criminal cases related to illegal mining and land denotification, is also planning to prepare the base for coming elections.
Sources in the party say that Yeddyurappa is lobbying hard for State BJP president’s post. Even Sadananda Gowda and his followers too are lobbying for the same. Since two factions that control the BJP government in the state are staking claim for the same position, the high command is said to have not taken any decision on it.
The central party leaders can not afford to antagonize a leader like Yeddyurappa even if he is facing criminal cases. He is the only mass leader in the party. That makes the party high command job even more tough.