BJP Courting Trouble In Karnataka

BENGALURU, INDIA - MAY 23: Karnataka BJP Chief BS Yeddyurappa along with BJP State General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje and other party supporters protests against the coalition government by Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress, ahead of swearing-in ceremony of Kumarswamy, the 24th Chief Minister of Karnataka, at Maurya Circle on May 23, 2018 in Bengaluru, India. (Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

(by Shankar Raj)

The Bharatiya Janata Party will be a big loser if it seeks the help of the rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs to bring down the coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy. The rebel MLAs will seek their pound of flesh — accommodating them in the party will trigger a huge revolt in the rank and file of the BJP. This is why the saffron brigade’s high command and many senior party leaders in Karnataka are not firing on all cylinders.

The campaign for pulling down the HDK government is primarily led by BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa (BSY). But other leaders like former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat leader from north Karnataka, and former deputy CM and a leader of the powerful Kuruba community, KS Eshwarappa, have been slow in stoking the political fire in Karnataka. Incidentally, Eshwarappa is from Shivamogga, the home district of BSY.

While Yeddyurappa has marshalled a small band of supporters for pulling down the HDK government, the party’s leadership in New Delhi has not been actively or aggressively involved. Senior leaders of the BJP are against forming a government with the support of defectors who are not aligned to any ideology other than money.

This has triggered deep divisions within the BJP in Karnataka on the sole issue of staking claim to form a new government.

A section of the BJP aligned to the party’s high command is not in favour of forming a new government under the present circumstances. It would be another tottering government with the rebels again resorting to blackmail politics if they are not accommodated.

And if the rebels are accommodated, there would be another revolt, this time from within the BJP.

There is also another theory doing the rounds that the current crisis is a result of Siddaramaiah’s manipulation and Yeddyurappa’s greed for power. BSY’s desperation is understandable. He is 75 and according to BJP’s rules, he cannot hold a constitutional post.

Siddaramaiah’s role, especially, is suspect. This is because eight of the 13 rebel Congress MLAs demanding a leadership change in the State are staunch followers of Siddaramaiah, former Chief Minister and currently the legislative party leader of the coalition. These MLAs suddenly switching loyalty has surprised many. One word from Siddaramaiah would have been enough to bring them back; but he did not do that.

In fact, not just the BJP, but many in the Congress have the lurking suspicion that Siddaramaiah hand is behind the present crisis.

Siddaramaiah began his political ascent under the tutelage of former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, another Chanakya in Karnataka politics. He was eased out the JD(S) as Gowda wanted Kumaraswamy to head the party. But when Siddaramaiah joined the Congress with the blessings of Sonia Gandhi, he brought along with him the blueprint of the political wargames that Gowda senior was famous for. This is why the JD(S) is unable to counter any of his moves as he wants to once again become the CM.

Siddaramaiah is looking to the future. The theory is that he does not mind if his supporters join the BJP or any other party for the time being. Siddaramaiah is confident that they can be brought or bought back whenever polls are announced to the assembly.

If Yeddyurappa manages to topple the present HDK government, the happiest man would be Siddaramaiah. He knows that Yeddyurappa will not be able to complete the remaining four years without dirtying his hands. By then, the BJP’s warhorse would have lost steam and the saffron party does not have many leaders to match BSY’s calibre. At that time, Siddaramaih hopes to strike.

This is precisely why Siddaramaiah is known as master of strategies and a political marathoner.