Did BJP come in the way of BS Yeddyurappa winning Karnataka?

BSY camp insiders believe there was a sabotage by some senior BJP leaders.

 |  5-minute read |   19-05-2018
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"I don't do party politics. I do people's politics. I have been humiliated."

These were BS Yeddyurappa's sharp and emotional words in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Saturday. As he proceeded to resign before facing the trust vote, those who knew the former chief minister understood his words were intended as much for the Opposition benches as for his detractors within the BJP.

Sometime in April, when I was travelling through Karnataka, a close aide of Yeddyurappa told me in a hush-hush tone about the fissures within the BJP in the state unit.

"There is a section in the Karnataka BJP which does not want the party to cross the 90-mark. Their fear is that if that we get a clear majority, Yeddyurappa as chief minister will control the government and could get someone like Shobha Karandlaje appointed as party chief. This would mean BSY would take charge of both the party and the government, making him all powerful in Karnataka. His detractors within the party will not allow that," he said.

yed-bod-copy_051918082154.jpgMiles to go: BS Yeddyurappa 

Subsequent events seem to bear out this conspiracy theory. The decision not to let BY Vijayendra contest from Varuna, even though it was interpreted as a snub to Yeddyurappa, upset the Lingayat base of the party. This when the party cadre on the ground in the constituency had demanded that Vijayendra be fielded from Varuna. People close to him were also unhappy with the reluctance of the high command to give BSY a free hand in running the state unit.

A lid was put on the differences in order to ensure a good showing at the hustings and make full use of the final thrust with Narendra Modi's campaign between May 1 and 10. But since May 15, when the results came, the BSY camp has been letting it be known that the BJP lost the opportunity to hit 130, thanks largely due to its own mistakes.

"Sabotage by some senior leaders," says a BSY camp insider conspiratorially, insisting that the Reddys were not involved in the election process as they made it seem they were.

"The Reddys tried more to show off that they were working in so many constituencies but they were largely on their own. In fact, we think if they were involved, the BJP would have done much better," he says.

Overconfidence and lack of political acumen among district level leaders of the BJP were mentioned as other reasons why the party stopped at 104. Selection of candidates was awry, the Yeddyurappa camp says, pointing out that 16 sitting MLAs lost the election.

"If they had won, our tally would have been 120. We expected to win in another 10 constituencies which did not happen," says an associate of Yeddyurappa.

The impression gathering ground in the Yeddyurappa camp is that the BJP never had its heart to ensure its party's government once the Supreme court reduced the time to face the floor test and the Congress and JD(S) acted smartly to ensure against poaching. The effort was more to make a martyr out of Yeddyurappa and then milk the sympathy factor in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Though ideally, the BJP would have liked to banish the Congress from power in Karnataka and thereby shut what it called its "ATM", it would like to see the glass half full even after falling short of the majority mark. In terms of strategy, the BJP believes this would work for it as it can ride on criticism against two opportunistic partners coming together to keep the single largest party out.

Politically, the vote banks of the Congress and the JD(S) overlap and the BJP would fancy its chances to grab the entire anti-Congress-JD(S) vote in 2019.

What is for Yeddyurappa next, the man who built the BJP brick by brick in Karnataka. He is 75 and it was an acknowledgement of his stature as the party's only pan-Karnataka leader that he was allowed to become the CM, despite crossing the unofficial age limit. Which is why BSY's regret is greater. That he has to walk away into the political sunset without a last hurrah. His two-day innings as CM will be remembered more for the desperate attempts to poach and bribe Opposition MLAs, in order to somehow cling to power. The audio conversations put out by the Congress, though unverified, that have Yeddyurappa allegedly luring an MLA, have robbed him of his sheen.

On Saturday, BSY took the Atal Bihari Vajpayee route and like the former prime minister in 1996, gave an emotionally charged farewell speech. Yeddyurappa will look back at history where Vajpayee, after quitting after 13 days as PM, came back to the same post two years later. One of the prime ministers in the interim period was HD Deve Gowda, whose son HD Kumaraswamy will now succeed BSY as the CM of Karnataka.

Yeddyurappa is a 24x7 politician and writing his political epitaph is the last thing anyone should do.

Also read: The day Rahul Gandhi did a Modi and took bhakts and critics by surprise


TS Sudhir TS Sudhir @iamtssudhir

The writer is a journalist.

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