BJP has decided to dropB S Yeddyurappa as chief minister ofKarnataka as the price for stepped up campaign againstCongress on the issue of corruption.
The decision, to be conveyed to Yeddyurappa after his arrival late on Wednesday night from Bangalore, was formalized soon after the party brass discussed the CM’s indictment by LokayuktaSantosh Hegde. The decision will be announced on Thursday after the party’s core group meets.
Yeddyurappa, who remained defiant even after the disclosure of Hegde’s findings, resisted till the end. However, the leadership decided to ask him to quit for the sake of the party’s larger gains.
In return, the chief minister may be allowed a big say in determining who succeeds him.
Coming against the backdrop of BJP’s reluctance to get Yeddyurappa to resign, the decision at once highlighted the traction that the issue of corruption has acquired and the drag that he has become on the party’s aspirations for the Centre. A big school in the party feels that Yeddyurappa has been wronged as theLokayukta passed strictures against him without giving him a chance to defend himself.
Many agree with the chief minister that irregularities in the mining sector did not begin with him, and that he did nothing that was out of ordinary by the standards of Karnataka politics.
But there is unanimity that “sacrificing” the chief minister has become necessary in an atmosphere where corruption has come to dominate, in no small measure due to BJP’s own high-pitched campaign. The party leadership reckons that having cornered Congress on the issue of sleaze, the opposition could not afford any perception that it had double standards.
The recognition is the reason why the leadership is ready for the consequences that Yeddyurappa’s ouster will entail. TheCM continues to retain his formidable base among the Lingayats who make up a big chunk of the Karnataka electorate. He has also helped the party notch up a series of by-election wins, something that has been cited by his supporters to argue that his removal could cost the party dear.
After having agonized over the dilemma, the party has come to the conclusion that it can have the comfort of status quo only at the cost of its plans at the national scale. The outrage over the findings of Lokayukta, with Congress charging that the leadership got a share of the “loot” from illegal mining, helped settle the debate.
To that extent, Hegde’s report helped a leadership that worried about the Lingayat fury if they had acted on their own. The wariness was also because of experience of Congress: it lost the Lingayat support after removing Virendra Patil, a member of the community, as chief minister. The Lokayukta report can be a cushion against a backlash from the Lingayats.
How Yeddyurappa reacts will be crucial for the party. Always a determined politician, the chief minister blames his plight also on the machinations of his rivals who lack his mass base but are shrewder and adept at working the central leadership. Economic Times