Is BJP blind to corruption to field Yeddyurappa as Karnataka CM candidate?
Here's a look at the former Karnataka CM's model of governance.
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On November 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was speaking at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Parivartan rally in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Hitting out at the Opposition for its all-India bandh, he said: “On the one hand we are initiating steps to curb corruption, on the other a few people are talking about ‘Bharat Bandh’." He described demonetisation as a cure for the 70-year-old disease of corruption.
BJP national president Amit Shah, 2,338km away from Kushinagar, was in Bangalore inaugurating the party's Ekta Samavesha organised by its OBC Morcha. Virtually sounding the 2019 poll bugle, he labelled Karnataka as the “most corrupt” state in the country.
Shah called for bringing his party back to power. Along with him, the entire galaxy of state BJP leaders exhorted the people to ensure the BJP returned to power under former CM and state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa.
Shah hailed Yeddyurappa’s contributions during his tenure as CM. He said: “Once you bring Yeddyurappa back to power, Karnataka will see transformation and it will become one of the fastest growing states in the country."
Both Modi and Shah along with the entire party have opened a front against black money and corruption. Both are promising that demonetisation would rid the country of the scourge. The BJP came to power promising to curb corruption. Hence Modi and Shah are trying to convince people that demonetisation is one of the biggest steps taken by them to stop graft.
What looks quite odd in this entire narrative is an attempt to project Yeddyurappa as the party's CM face in Karnataka. In October, a special CBI court acquitted him of charges of accepting Rs 40 crore as kickbacks from mining companies when he was chief minister.Shah hailed Yeddyurappa’s contributions during his tenure as CM. (Photo: PTI)
The case had lost him the CM's chair and caused his exit from the party. Later, the Lingayat strongman returned to the party before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He may have got a clean chit, but is BJP seriously contemplating making him the Karnataka CM and delivering a corruption-free government in the southern state?
Let's take a look at Yeddyurappa's model of governance:
When Yeddyurappa formed the government in 2008, Operation Kamala was used extensively to strengthen the BJP, to convert the minority government into the majority and weaken the opposition. It was a devious device to defeat the anti-defection law. In 2013, former state CM DV Sadananda Gowda termed the operation a “tragedy”. He promised that “in future, the party will never try such things”.
Regime of Reddy brothers
The chief operators of Operation Kamala were the Reddy brothers. It was an open secret that the party let the Bellary brothers use their money to convert BSY's minority government into a majority. After mortgaging his existence to the Reddy money, BSY let them plunder the state's iron ore. They established a business-cum-political empire, which looked much powerful than the CM's.
BSY paid LK Advani to continue as CM
After leaving the BJP, Yeddyurappa formed Karnataka Janatha Paksha. Its leader and former central minister, Dhananjay Kumar, alleged that BJP patriarch LK Advani had received huge sums from BSY to allow the latter to continue as chief minister. Kumar said none of the national leaders of the BJP had the moral right to speak about corruption as they, including Advani, had taken a lot of money from the then CM. He claimed he had documents to back his statement.
Advani criticised the party's handling of BSY
In 2013, when the BJP lost its only government in the south, Advani said the Karnataka poll verdict had not come as a surprise to him and that it served as a lesson to both his party and the Congress about not "taking the common man for granted". Critical of the party's handling of Karnataka affairs, he maintained it had been "absolutely opportunistic" and said BJP's response to the crisis was "not at all a minor indiscretion".
Three CMs in five years
Three chief ministers in five years is usually how the Congress used to rule a state. But the "party with a difference", the BJP, too adopted the same formula of musical chairs. There was genuine disappointment among the people who voted for the BJP at the manner in which it governed Karnataka.
BJP became "free and pure" after Yeddyurappa's exit
When Yeddyurappa left the party, senior leader KS Eshwarappa said the BJP had become "free and pure" after his exit. His exact words were: "Workers and well-wishers are happy that those facing CBI cases and who served a prison term are not there. The party has become free and pure."
Sadananda Gowda said “the mess in the party is being cleaned up. Yeddyurappa’s exit has helped us redefine the party.”
It was Yeddyurappa’s launch of Karnataka Janata Party before the 2013 election that split the BJP vote, and gave the Congress victory. The clean chit for Yeddyurappa may have opened up the possibility of BJP hoisting the saffron flag in the state for the second time under the leadership of the Lingayat strongman.
But can he deliver a corruption-free government?
The Reddy brothers may be out of the party now, but what is the guarantee that similar people won’t be nurtured by BSY if he becomes CM again?
The present Congress government in the state headed by Siddaramaiah is rocked by scams. The ruling party is a divided house. It is an ideal situation for the BJP to capture power in Karnataka. But going by its last model of governance, it’s difficult to think it will deliver a corruption-free government under Yeddyurappa.