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Yeddyurappa crisis exposes BJP leadership’s fragility

Posted by on July 31, 2011 0 Comment

If Karnataka chief minister BSYeddyurappa keeps his word and resigns on Sunday, a collective sigh of relief will rise from the BJP’s 11, Ashoka Road headquarters in Delhi.

Cornered yet unrepentant, Yeddyurappa has refused to follow the party diktat to quit even two days after the BJP’s parliamentary board issued the fiat. The Karnataka CM’s defiance has exposed the party’s Achilles heel-a weak leadership unable to tame egotistical regional strongmen.

The brittleness of the BJP’s chain of command is not one of Delhi’s better-kept secrets, but the Karnataka CM’s wrangling over his successor, composition of the state cabinet and a stellar role for himself in the state unit has exposed the party’s vulnerabilities at a time it is hoping to corner the Congress on graft.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the party as senior leaders Arun Jaitley andRajnath Singh try and coax Yeddyurappa out of office ahead of the monsoon session, due to begin on Monday.

They may succeed, but the party’s bid to present itself as an alternative to the corruption-hit UPA-II has taken a beating.

It cannot be argued that the Karnataka turmoil caught theBJP unawares as Lokayukta Santosh Hegde had served sufficient notice that his report on illegal mining would not spare anyone. Media leaks banished any lingering doubts. The BJP, nevertheless, remained unprepared for the storm, with a blase Yeddyurappa holidaying in Mauritius.

His stubborn refusal to tow the party line indicates how a weak leadership has given state strongmen like Yeddyurappa the room to flex muscle, even believing that they can get the party brass to back off.

It took prolonged negotiations stretching past 2 am on Thursday for the CM to understand that there was no escape route.

The lead up to the crisis was not promising. BJP chief Nitin Gadkari was till recently engaged in settling scores with Maharashtra leader Gopinath Munde, whose bid to join the Congress forced the party to woo him urgently. Munde’s pole position in the party’s Maharashtra affairs was restored, but the face-off took a toll on RSS-appointed Gadkari’s authority. Despite being elevated to national president, Gadkari came across as mired in state rivalries while the more urgent task of making the BJP a cohesive outfit with a well-considered response to issues of the day other than heckling the government fell by the wayside. Only recently Gadkari had set up a policy group, but it has taken a while to happen.

The BJP’s power equations remain unsettled and Gadkari’s nebulous control is compounded by an ill-defined pecking order, where seniors like Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, Jaitley and Rajnath Singh are in a cluster. Not lacking in ambition, the younger crop of leaders is not willing to yield to one another, as blame apportioning over the prominence accorded to Bellary’s Reddy brothers in the Karnataka unit showed. Economic Times

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