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The BJP finally took back Yeddyurappa in the party – bad ?




It must have been a bitter sweet experience. For long, the BJP wanted to get a hold in South India, a part of the country where it had been shut out. There were parts of Kerala where the RSS did have some influence, but no hope for the BJP to get any seats in Kerala. In Orissa, the party earlier had a coalition with the BJD, but at the time of fresh elections, Naveen Patnaik had decided that he was in a strong position and really did not need the support of the BJP; the BJP protested but the elections showed that Patnaik did not need the support of the BJP and that was the end of the BJP influence in Orissa. The attempt by the BJP to gain power in Karnataka hence was extremely important and they needed to ensure that it went well.
And soon enough, after a period where the BJP had to strike a coalition with the JD(S) to share power in Karnataka, the party finally reached a stage where it got just about enough seats to claim power in the state, with the first order of business being to get more MLA’s on their side in order to get a more comfortable majority. In the midst of all this was the figure of Yeddyurappa, the person who had done immensely to bring the BJP to power in the state and who was considered the person capable of playing the caste logic and getting the vote of the Lingayat community towards the BJP.
Unfortunately for the BJP, the position of power was somewhat unstable, and even though MLA’s had managed to be persuaded to switch sides, there were unstable relationships in the party itself that caused the Government to remain unstable, with the presence of people such as the MLAs from Bellary who believed that they deserved a special status because of their money financing a part of the entire operations of the party (also because they were also supported by central leaders in the BJP who wanted to keep Yeddyurappa down). These periodic episodes of dissidence did a lot of harm to the reputation of the party, and there were no central leaders of the party who were able to lay down the law and ensure that everything was resolved and the Government went on track.
However, this was not the half of it, and it turned out that Yeddyurappa considered himself the law, that he had done so much to get the BJP to power that he was entitled to get something out it, and so he turned the BJP Government of hope into a Government that was seen as headed by a corrupt man. Exposure related to granting of land to his family and the various scams related to mining (for helping the Reddy brothers who were powerful in the state BJP) kept the Government in a state of declining reputation and yet any effort by the central leaders to get Yeddyurappa to go gracefully was declined. It was only when the Lokayukta filed a report that named Yeddyurappa did he finally agree to go, but not with any sense that he had erred, instead it was like the cry of an innocent man who had been drummed out for no fault of his.
For quite some time more, he insisted on having a considerable say in the affairs of the state BJP, including deciding the name of the Chief Minister and even when the CM would need to be replaced; all this time, the affairs of the state BJP Government was being laughed about. Finally, when the BJP made it clear that he had caused enough damage and would no longer be allowed to hold the party hostage, he walked out of the party and decided to contest the election against the BJP by creating his own party and putting his own candidates. He was confident that he would cause damage and would also become a kingmaker, having considerable influence in the new assembly.
The rest is recent history. The BJP lost since his party got around 10% of the vote, primarily from the Lingayats, and this loss of 10% to the BJP ensured that the Congress got a thumping victory. It also made clear to the BJP that without Yeddyurappa, it did not have a clear future, and to Yeddyurappa, it was clear that on his own, he is not going to get anything major, and his efforts to get deals with other parties did not work out as well. Finally, for the Lok Sabha elections, both of them decided that it was for the best that he comes back to the party and does not try any drama in the meantime.
But, his homecoming is not all positive. It has a cost. Yeddyurappa is seen as corrupt (and would be very difficult to change this image), and by admitting him back to the party, the BJP will be targeted by the other parties as being opportunistic, and even the development and non-corrupt image that the BJP tries to project will be hit – the major question is by how much. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got 19 seats from Karnataka, and it needs to ensure that it does not go down, but it is very difficult. However, the problem is that there will be a loss of image nationally, with all points made by the BJP over Congress corruption being met by the Yeddyurappa tag. Was it worth it for the BJP ? If they get around 15-20 Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka, then it may be worth it, but just about. Personally, I understand why the BJP needed to take him back, but it is not something that I like, and it did create a negative sentiment about this decision, and also making the BJP seem weaker and more opportunistic.




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