One day, three chief ministers, different tales

By Minu Jain, IANS,

New Delhi: One chief minister rode to incredible victory on a development agenda, another stayed put in office defying taint and sections of his party, and a third quit saying he was too old – the differing sagas of Nitish Kumar in Bihar, B.S. Yeddyurappa in Karnataka and K. Rosaiah in Andhra Pradesh occupied the political mindspace Wednesday.

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The three chief ministers were at the centre of the proverbial storm on a day when political developments had the nation hooked.

While Nitish Kumar led his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a historic electoral victory in Bihar by decimating Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, Yeddyurappa managed to cling on as the Karnataka chief minister despite enormous pressure on the BJP to take action against him on allegations of corruption.

And Congress’ Rosaiah, 78, paved the way for a successor by opting out of the rat race on grounds of health.

Jubilation, righteous anger, defensive postures… the lines blurred as the principal parties in the country took various stands on the three issues.

The fast moving developments across the country comes at a time when the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the BJP-led opposition were locked in combat over a parliamentary probe into the 2G spectrum scam and parliament has been unable to conduct any business for nine days. There are bound to be widespread ramifications, analysts said.

Nitish Kumar’s stupendous win, with the BJP/JD-U alliance bagging 204 seats of the 243 in Bihar, came in for kudos from all quarters, including from the Congress and Lalu Prasad.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi admitted that the results indicated that the party “has to start from scratch”. Her colleague Home Minister P. Chidambaram also doffed his hat to Nitish Kumar for the “great show” and said the “development argument has prevailed”.

But the party also went on the offensive on the decision of the BJP to let Yeddyurappa stay despite the allegations of corruption and nepotism over land grabbing charges.

“When we compare the action that our party takes with the action that other parties take, as you have mentioned, the BJP in Karnataka, it is for people to judge. I am confident they will judge us more positively than other parties,” Gandhi told reporters when asked if Yeddyurappa should quit.

Others felt that the decision of the BJP would dent its credibility, particularly at a time when it was taking the lead in attacking the government on corruption charges, particularly the 2G spectrum issue in which it has even named Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the allegations would be looked into and added: “With panchayat and district parishad elections round the corner, the party appeals to all its leaders and workers to work unitedly for its success.”

Yeddyurappa, 67, is the BJP’s first-ever chief minister in south India.

While the BJP tossed between elation at the electoral victory and defensiveness on Yeddyurappa, the Congress also braced for some instability in Andhra Pradesh with the exit of Rosaiah.

He had taken over as the chief minister Sep 3 last year after the death of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash.

The resignation came amid mounting pressure from a section of the party leaders to act against party MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy in the wake of a programme telecast by the latter’s Sakshi channel criticising Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy and state assembly Speaker N. Kirankumar Reddy and state minister J. Geeta Reddy are among the frontrunners for his post.