The RSS moved swiftly on Monday to prevent the impending dissolution of Karnataka’s BJP government and imposition of President’s Rule in the state, as the standoff continued into the sixth day with neither the B.S. Yeddyurappa camp nor the group led by Ananth Kumar showing signs of backing down.
In a series of meetings, RSS leaders summoned the recalcitrant caretaker chief minister, the party’s state chief K.S. Eashwarappa and BSY’s nominee as his successor, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, and handed them a dressing down. The RSS leaders told them they must put the party first, and that it was imperative that the first BJP government in South India stay intact.
As a first step, Mr Eshwarappa and Mr Sadananda Gowda met on Monday morning and agreed to a truce. “The RSS has made it amply clear that under no circumstances should elections be thrust upon the state. Both factions should work out a via media to elect a consensus candidate,” sources said, adding that under pressure from the RSS, Mr Eshwarappa also met with Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa and Mr Gowda on Monday evening.
In an apparent climbdown, Mr Yeddyurappa agreed to meet Mr Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday to iron out all the differences and arrive at a consensus, sources said.
However, in a sign that the wrangling was far from over, the Ananth Kumar camp insisted that Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat who could divide BSY’s Lingayat camp, continues to be in the race for the CM’s post. In fact, Mr Shettar’s name is expected to be proposed at Wednesday’s legislature party meeting by Mr Kumar, while those in the CM’s camp maintained that the RSS backed Mr Sadananda Gowda’s candidature. The Ananth Kumar camp may spring a surprise by offering the DCM post to Shobha Karandlaje, which Mr Yeddyurappa will not be able to reject.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yeddyurappa, known to be on a short fuse, reportedly slapped a minister and close ally minutes before his march to Raj Bhavan on Sunday. “I made you minister to solve problems. Without me you are nothing,” he is reported to have said. Next, he shouted at his sons, and blamed them for his downfall.
“The minister ran into another room, in tears,” a source said.
Everyone, from central observers to state unit leaders, his sons and ministers, faced his wrath since the crisis erupted on July 28. During one meeting with party observers, he threw a cup on the floor, smashing it to bits. During another meeting he smashed a laptop. At his most caustic, he said: “A leader who cannot even win here becomes a Rajya Sabha member twice thanks to me. Another wrecked the party’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh.”
The knives may also be out for outgoing chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s close confidante and higher education minister V.S. Acharya, who has reportedly drawn flak from central party leaders for standing firmly behind his close friend during the crisis in the BJP.
Speaking to this newspaper, a source said: “Several central leaders are unhappy with both Dr Acharya and Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha MP D.V. Sadananda Gowda for becoming pawns in the hands of Mr Yeddyurappa.” Dr Acharya and Dr Gowda were known for their commitment to the party and the cause of the Sangh Parivar as they were groomed by the RSS. “Dr Acharya was closely associated with BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and had participated in several movements with them. He enjoys good ties with most top leaders at the national level. But his association with Mr Yeddyurappa has not been to their liking as this has virtually forced the eight BJP legislators in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to align with Mr Yeddyurappa. This has further deepened the divide in the party though Dr Acharya’s support base has grown,” the source explained.
The source added that if Dr Acharya had issued a statement when the crisis started that he would stand by the party instead of maintaining a stoic silence, Mr Yeddyurappa would not have been emboldened to take out a padayatra to prove that his CM candidate, Mr Sadananda Gowda, had a majority. “Mr Yeddyurappa’s padayatra was aimed at sending a message that his chosen successor had a majority, which has not gone down well with leaders in Delhi,” the source explained.
In a further blow to BSY, the Bellary mining barons and former ministers, known as the Reddy brothers, switched camps on Monday, a day after they had been visible walking with Mr Yeddyruappa when he went on a padayatra to submit his resignation as CM.
Mr Yeddyurappa on Sunday evening was able to garner the support of almost 70 legislators, including the group of the Reddy brothers that has 14 legislators. “Nobody knows what prompted them to switch sides. But their switch is read as a major sign of the crumbling of Mr Yeddyurappa’s fort,” the source explained.
It seems to be a well-thought-out strategy to create panic in the BSY camp, as with the Reddy brothers associating with his rivals, the number of his supporters will automatically come down to 56. “Bringing down his support to 56 would only mean that his supported candidate will win with a margin of just two votes and securing two votes in favour of Mr Kumar’s nominee would be easier than before,” the source said.
In the middle of the heated discussion between the state and central leaders, the Reddy brothers came secretly to the private hotel where the central observers were staying and made their stand public. They had pledged their support to the party not any individual, sources said. Asian Age