Most of senior central BJP leaders on Wednesday held the exit of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa from the party as the reason for the humiliating defeat in the state Assembly elections in the party’s gateway to the South -- Karnataka.
The party leaders also insisted that the state verdict in no way summed up the national mood, which was decidedly against corruption and hence anti-Congress. They said the state voted on the basis of a host of localised issues. After the party put up a dismal show winning just 40 seats, a section of the party leaders was already out to apportion the blame on the L K Advani-Ananth Kumar duo “for persistently seeking Yeddyurappa’s ouster from the party after he was indicted by the state Lokayukta in a land graft case”.
Voices in hushed tones also questioned the role of Rajya Sabha leaders Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradhan. While Jaitley looked after the state affairs in an informal way, Pradhan -- considered a rookie by many -- was the authorised general secretary incharge of the state.
After the one-and-a-half-hour-long BJP Parliamentary Board meeting in the evening that discussed the Karnataka results in detail, former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu said no one would be held accountable for the humiliating defeat.
Asked specifically if the party had learnt any lesson and if it would take any corrective action, especially on the leaders looking into the state affairs, Naidu said: “We, in the party, believe in the tradition of collective leadership. So, all of us are responsible for the defeat in equal measure”.
“Besides the division in votes, the image of lack of unity in the party and the continued media projection of the party problems adversely impacted performance in the state,” Naidu added. “It was the BJP that had defeated the BJP,” a senior party leader put it succinctly. A preliminary examination revealed that the exit of Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu had cost the party dearly.
“Yeddyurappa’s exit meant that we were deprived of an additional six percentage of popular votes, while Sriramulu’s exit ensured that we were denied around two per cent votes of tribals,” said a senior party leader, adding that an additional two per cent of votes were based on the anti-incumbency wave. The meeting also decided to send former party president Nitin Gadkari to Bangaloreto elect their new leader.