Bangalore, Oct 6 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party's south India foray is turning out to be a tale of slow growth and rapid decline. As assembly polls near in Karnataka, the only state in the south it has managed to come to power in, the party presents itself as an outfit that prefers playing a waiting game when faced with a poor choice.
The party's handling of its corruption-scarred first chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa's frequent rebellion, shows up its weaknesses on many fronts - lack of understanding of the Karnataka electorate, lack of a national leader with greater influence than a regional satrap and lack of a policy or programme that can checkmate the local strongman's ploy to play "I am a victim" game.
These shortcomings have left the BJP, which came to power for the first time in Karnataka in May 2008, with a poor choice in the state - suffer with Yeddyurappa or without him.
The BJP is now said to be assessing how many seats it will lose if Yeddyurappa is retained in the party and how many if he is expelled or leaves on his own.
Officially, of course, the BJP denies indulging in any such exercise. But it has no answer to the question many party members and sympathisers ask - what is holding you back from taking strict action against Yeddyurappa who has, of late, been frequently ridiculing the party and its state and central leadership.
The indecisiveness or inability to act against Yeddyurappa, clearly stemming from the party leadership's realisation that there is no one at the central level to influence the Karnataka voters, has only left the party's image in tatters, not only in this southern state but across India as well.
This weakness has emboldened not only Yeddyurappa but also his supporters to mock at the BJP leadership, reducing it to a laughing stock in the state.
The supporters - from ministers in the Jagadish Shettar government, the third BJP regime in four years, to legislators - have been stating almost daily these days that the BJP is doomed in Karnataka without Yeddyurappa.
They also question whether their party central leadership has any understanding at all of the ground realities, meaning factors that influence the voters, in Karnataka.
These certainly are not the questions that the central leadership of a party aspiring to retain power in the state should be facing in an election year.
But that is the state the BJP has reduced itself to as it struggles to find what it stands for and what its policies should be.
The only relief for the BJP from the swamp it finds itself in may, ironically, come from Yeddyurappa.
With the BJP unable to gauge the possible consequences on its electoral fortunes if it throws Yeddyurappa out of the party, the former chief minister is now talking of quitting the organisation in December.
He would lose the advantage of playing on the "victim" syndrome, which he was perhaps planning if expelled from the party.
However, that is not a consolation point for the BJP. It is, in fact, a self-inflicted slap on its face, leaving a lasting impression that here is a party that will swallow any and every humiliation to capture or retain power.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)