Friday, July 29, 2011
BJP learns hard lessons in Yeddyurappa episode
The party with a difference makes its peace with reality
New Delhi: The exit of Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa following Lokayukta Santosh Hegde's indictment on the illegal mining issue reveals that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has now joined the ranks of the other parties, especially its main rival the Congress, in earning the disrepute of being charged with corruption in high places.
While the Congress may gleefully point out that the BJP cannot any more stand on a pedestal, the BJP will soon overcome its discomfiture and may also feel that it has now become a 'normal' political party like the rest, where allegations and charges of corruption are passe.
Hegde's report could also be a blessing in disguise for the BJP's central leadership, which could not have its way earlier despite wanting to replace Yeddyurappa because of the power of the caste factor. It will now reassert its authority and while going through the ritualistic consultation process with the pary legislators will try and get a person of its choice to be chief minister.
This is not the first time that BJP chief ministers have faced internal opposition or that the party's central leadership nominated the chief minister. It had happened earlier in Rajasthan where Vasundhara Raje was made the chief minister despite opposition from within the state unit of the party. And Raje survived as well. In Madhya Pradesh, Uma Bharati, who had won the 2003 assembly election for the party and who became the cief ministre despite reservations from the central leadership had to go out because of a court judgment in Karnataka. This gave an opportunity for the central leaders to choose the chief minister.
The BJP then is becoming more like the Congress, where problematic chief ministers are replaced in an extreme situation and relatively 'weak' leaders chosen. Until Shivrajsingh Chauhan won the 20008 assembly election, he seemed a nondescript leader and no political observer worth the name was willing to bet on him. Of course Chauhan won and the observers were left looking sheepish.
The BJP is learning to deal with the dynamics of power, where caste factor has to be balanced with the image factor of the chief minister. In strictly legal terms, the Lokayukta's report has only recommended prosecution of the chief minister, but the case is an open one and the courts could give a judgment dismissing the charges brought against Yeddyurappa as untenable. But the party now understands the importance of image and perception over narrow legality and longdrawn processes of litigation.
The party has also pre-empted governor H.K.Bhardwaj of using his constitutional powers to initiate action against Yeddyurappa based on the Lokayukta's report.
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