THERE IS good reason the BJP prefers to stall Parliament rather than seriously discuss corruption. Bickering seniors are providing the media dirt on the party to settle personal rivalries.
As the Congress trained its guns on the BJP, alleging corruption, in response to the tirade it faced in Parliament, it got help from within the BJP itself. In two days, the headlines all spoke of the corruption allegations against Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa. The CM is now complaining to the party’s central leadership about Ananth Kumar’s exertions against him. He has also expressed his disappointment with BJP Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, close associate of Kumar and the owner of Suvarna Karnataka, the television news channel leading the corruption story against him in Bengaluru. The last of the trio trying to dislodge him, claims Yeddyurappa, is former minister for higher education, Arvind Limbavali.
On 16 November, Kumar invited 30 MLAs to his house. The next day, two names were doing the rounds as the possible successors of Yeddyurappa as CM — Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat like the incumbent CM, and Ishwarappa, an OBC leader who is a contemporary of Yeddyurappa and Kumar but who had lost out in the race for the top job.
BJP President Nitin Gadkari is reported to have acknowledged the complaints, which, among other things, reminded him of how Yeddyurappa and he had to go together to persuade the state Lokayukta Santosh Hegde to withdraw his resignation.
In his own words, Yeddyurappa was “deeply hurt and anguished” by the central leadership’s soft approach towards the trio of Kumar, Chandrashekhar and Limbavali. He is believed to have used terms like “mental torture” to express his angst. Gadkari, who has cautioned him of unfavourable numbers, has also assured the CM of his support. He has said that in the event of the government falling in the state, the BJP would go to the polls under the leadership of Yeddyurappa alone.
The central leadership knows Kumar fosters rebels. When confronted, he has consistently denied it, maintaining that dissatisfied party workers come to him for recourse. Gadkari now finds himself helpless, knowing Kumar derives his influence from BJP supremo Lal Krishna Advani. He has old ties with other Advani loyalists, who comprise the BJP top brass now. Sushma Swaraj has actually helped Kumar against Yeddyurappa. Arun Jaitley too has had a close equation with Kumar when their interests matched. They need Kumar’s support in Delhi. His relationship with former party president Venkaiah Naidu have deteriorated though, over his interference in Karnataka, from where he is a Rajya Sabha MP.
The RSS, meanwhile, has reaffirmed its support to Yeddyurappa, acknowledging his role for the Sangh Parivar’s prospects in the south. His departure, they fear, will reduce the BJP to Number 3 in the state behind the Congress and the JD(S).
But, in typical RSS fashion, it has cautioned Yeddyurappa about the corruption allegations. RSS sources in the state say the CM’s efforts to rein in his adventurous sons have been largely ineffective. His camp, though, finds it odd how even a small allegation against him finds such traction in Delhi, while Kumar, when he was the urban development minister, was the main accused in the Rs. 14,000 crore HUDCO scam of 2004.