BANGALORE: It is time for litmus tests of different kinds for the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership, both at the state and central level.
For Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, his acid test is that he has to ensure the Udupi-Chikamagalur Lok Sabha seat, which he vacated recently, is retained. It is a matter of prestige. This test is all the more crucial after having lost the Bellary rural by-election after taking over as the chief minister. This election is an opportunity for the former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa to tell that he is indispensable to the party, after the drubbing it received in Bellary at the hands of B Sriramulu.
At the same time, Yeddyurappa’s six-day long tour of seven-districts – all in the Lingayat-dominated north Karnataka region, which started on Saturday, ostensibly to participate in pre-fixed programmes, but essentially to demonstrate his popularity will push the state and central leadership to a tight spot. The party on the other hand cannot offer him the chief minister’s post by antagonising Advani, who has put his feet down on BSY’s come back until he is cleared off corruption charges.
Yeddyurappa having sensed that his detractors in the party, both at the central and state are not serious about reinstating him as the chief minister, he has decided to prove his ‘indispensability’ by demonstrating his popularity among the masses.
What made this crafty politician to arrive at this conclusion? Especially after state BJP president K S Eshwarppa repeatedly said that Yeddyurappa will get back his chair only after he is cleared off the charges.
A minister on the condition of anonymity told The Sunday Standard: “Everyone knows how long the judicial process will take to reach its logical end. If what Eshwarappa says is true, then it means that Yeddyurappa will not become the chief minister anytime soon. The high command will have to say something concrete on this issue, at least to Yeddyurappa if not in public.”
His supporters point out that former chief minister S Bangarappa too was charged with corruption in Classic Computer scandal in 1991 but could come out fully clean only in 2009, after 18 years. “So, what is Eshwarappa upto?” asked an angry party worker, who swears and dies by Yeddyurappa.
The BJP’s central leadership will face a predicament-of-sorts and will have to make a, rather, difficult choice between principle and pragmatism; moral & wisdom; ideals & practicality. If the high command decides to bring Yeddyurappa back, with an eye on votes as he is the crowd puller and vote-getter, then it will have to face the flak for having compromised on corruption, it can no longer sit on the high moral pedestal it has occupied vis-a-vis Congress.
But on the other hand, if the BJP central leadership decides to stick to principles and morals and refuses to entertain still-charge-sheeted Yeddyurappa, then it will have to face the possibility of mass erosion in its electoral base. Should Yeddyurappa decides to walk out with his strong Lingayat vote-bank that would mark the beginning of the end of BJP in Karnataka.
With the state leadership, including Eshwarappa and Sadananda Gowda, not knowing how to handle Yeddyurappa and his juggernaut—whether to give official sanction to his tour or not—the local MLAs and district units too are a confused lot.
To be fair to Yeddyurappa, he has not said that he will rock the government; but his eerie silence is pregnant with all sorts of meanings and has all the potential for things to take any course and shape. BJP central leadership has to race against time which is short.