Immoral but not illegal: that’s the verdict of BJP president Nitin Gadkari on the charges against Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa of corruption in land allotment to his sons and other relatives.
A month after he decided Yeddyurappa should continue, with the promise that he’d personally look into the veracity of the corruption charges, Gadkari came out strongly in favour of the beleaguered CM in a candid interview to HT on Wednesday. “The land allotment by Yeddyurappa is not illegal but immoral,” Gadkari said.
"Before him, 10 times more serious decisions were taken by (previous state CMs) HD Kumaraswami (JD-S), Dharam Singh and SM Krishna (both Congress). We asked Yeddyurappa to return the land. We also decided to keep a sharp eye on developments in Karnataka.”
Yeddyurappa was charged by the state Opposition with indulging in nepotism by denotifying government land and selling it to his two sons and relatives at throwaway prices.
The 30-month-old BJP government in Karnataka, its first in the south, had been plunged into a crisis with 14 party MLAs revolting against him and necessitating two votes of confidence in the assembly in October.
What seems to have tilted the balance in Yeddyurappa’s favour is the strong support of the Lingayat community, which forms 17% of the state’s population. Removing Yeddyurappa could jeopardise the BJP's chances of retaining its slender majority in the assembly.
Votaries of Yeddyurappa's removal said the BJP's campaign against corruption in the UPA would be blunted if the CM was allowed to continue. But pragmatists in the BJP seem to have had the last word.