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Lotus Loofahs

BSY looks cornered, Reddys muscle in

Lotus Loofahs
KPN
Lotus Loofahs
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Possible Endmoves

  • CM stays. Karandlaje quits. On the other hand, BSY quits. Reddys cool it.
  • Compromise. BSY stays on for now.
  • BSY stays. Reddy nominee speaker Jagadish Shettar becomes deputy CM.
  • Reddy brothers launch a new party and tie up with Congress.
  • BJP ties up with JD(S) if Reddys opt out. Conversely, Reddys tie up with Deve Gowda, form government.
  • Guv keeps assembly in suspended animation. May call for fresh polls.

***

As the crisis in the state BJP enters its third week and the belligerent Bellary Reddy brothers push for a leadership change, the loneliness of CM B.S. Yediyurappa has never been so apparent. He went to Bellary a few days back and there was nobody to receive him at the airport except for some junior officials. He was in Bijapur on November 3 and of the 11 BJP MLAs, only one turned up for his function. Later in the day, officials say he came to the Vidhana Soudha and sat alone till 8.30 pm and then went home. There isn’t even a murmur of support for him in home district Shimoga.

This isolation has only aggravated his impulsive nature. On the one hand, with folded hands he says he too is “human” and prone to “mistakes”, and should be given an opportunity to “rectify” them. On the other, he’s threatened to conspire, connive and “be a Chanakya”. He even said he could turn a “suicide bomber”, meaning he could recommend the dissolution of the 16-month-old assembly. On November 5 morning, some of his key strategists told Outlook the CM wouldn’t “back down at any cost” and, if push comes to shove, will meet the governor and ask for the house to be kept under suspended animation. In short, confusion reigns in the BSY camp.

Till going to press on November 5, all efforts by the BJP central leadership to resolve the crisis had come a cropper. There were reports that they had offered a compromise formula wherein BSY proteges—rural development minister Shobha Karandlaje and principal secretary V.P. Baligae—would be dropped. The Reddy brothers rejected it and stuck to their demand that BSY must go. Their bluster comes from the fact that in the 224-seat house, they have 65 MLAs with them, mostly BJP rebels and independents. This reduces the BSY camp to 38 legislators (about 20 are neutral). Before the rebellion, the united BJP had 117 MLAs and the support of six independents.

Yediyurappa has tried to build a moral argument at this hour of crisis, indirectly pointing to the “ill-gotten wealth” of the mining lords (read the Reddy brothers) and questioning the unconscionable attitude of the legislators who have been closeted in five-star hotels while their flood-ravaged constituencies still struggle. Even this hasn’t drawn much response. People point to 16 months ago when the Reddys spent unprecedented sums in north Karnataka to bring the first BJP government in the south to power. It’s also common knowledge that BSY relied on Reddy “packets” to launch ‘Operation Lotus’—getting Opposition MLAs to defect. With such a history of monetary collusion, the CM’s tongue was naturally tied beyond a point. As BJP workers themselves say, the Reddys are like venture capitalists and they want returns for their investments.

Meanwhile, the Reddys, who know that people have qualms about associating with them, have thrown up the name of speaker Jagadish Shettar as compromise CM to swell their numbers. So, from an initial 20, they now have the support of 62 MLAs and it’s fast going up. But why Shettar? Well, because he belongs to the same majority Lingayat community as BSY and is perhaps the only one with as much experience as the latter. To top it all, he is a swayamsevak and has never lost an election.

As the stalemate continues, the situation now can best be summed up in the words of law and parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Kumar, “Whoever wins in this game, the loser is the BJP.”

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