Gloom and relief in BJP; Congress, JD-S jubilant

By V.S. Karnic, IANS,

Bangalore : The B.S. Yeddyurappa camp was glum while the rest of the Bharatiya Janata Party felt relieved. The opposition was jubilant. It was a mix of moods in Karnataka as the chief minister was on the way out for graft and illegal mining.

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The 68-year-old Yeddyurappa did not quit immediately as directed by party leaders but went into a huddle with his staunch supporters to decide on the conditions on which he will leave the post.

Though remaining in office appeared a remote possibility after Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde sought his trial for graft, Yeddyurappa and his supporters seemed unwilling to accept the reality.

Hence the shock and pall of gloom in his camp from the party central leaders’ decision to tell him to get out at the earliest to save the party from further embarrassment.

The central leaders’ decision, however, came as a relief to a large section of long-time BJP members and supporters as the party’s image was taking a severe beating in the only southern state it is ruling.

“It was time the change was effected though there is nothing new in the Lokayukta’s findings. The opposition parties had made public the documents on donations to a trust run by Yeddyurappa’s sons and also about the money they made from selling one acre of land near Bangalore,” said a veteran BJP member requesting anonymity.

“Hopefully, this development will be a lesson for all of us in the party and those joining us that our future lies in being different and disciplined,” he said.

The Congress and the Janata Dal (JD-S) claimed victory for their struggle to end Yeddyurappa’s “corrupt” regime. The two parties had launched a vigorous campaign, particularly in the last six months, releasing various documents in support of their allegation that the “Yeddyuappa regime is the most corrupt in India”.

Congress workers broke 101 coconuts in west Bangalore where the party held a rally demanding Yeddyurappa’s sacking as he had not resigned soon after the directive from his party high command.

JD-S state president and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who has also been named in the Hegde report for granting mining leases to two firms flouting rules, said “at last wisdom has dawned on the BJP leaders”.

For the people of the state, it appeared be an end of one more unstable regime and beginning of the next till the assembly polls in 2013, if not held earlier.

Yeddyurappa’s successor will be the fourth chief minister of the state in seven years. N. Dharam Singh of Congress ruled in 2004-06, Kumaraswamy in 2006-07 and Yeddyurappa from May 2008.

The deep divisions in the BJP indicate its regime is only a holding operation and not the one that will bring governance back on the rails.

“The failure of the BJP central leadership to effect a smooth transition shows the new regime will be as unstable as that of Yeddyurappa,” said K. Uma, a 60-year-old housewife, a staunch supporter of the BJP and its Jan Sangh predecessor.

“We only hope whoever becomes the chief minister will focus on administration and not merely consolidating his position,” said S. Ramanath Shetty, a shopkeeper in the bustling Basavanagudi in south Bangalore.

“Karnataka’s bad phase of not having a stable administration continues with little hope that next elections will provide a clear winner, given the poor shape of the three political parties in the state,” said M. Sudhindra, a software engineer with an MNC.