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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014
BJP's southern discomfort
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 07, 2012
First Published: 22:37 IST(7/10/2012)
Last Updated: 22:39 IST(7/10/2012)

Divided we stand, divided we fall would seem to be the motto of the BJP these days. The rumblings in Karnataka which began during the party's recent executive meet have now assumed thunderous proportions with former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa leaving the party, hinting that he will float his own outfit after the Gujarat elections. This is a headache which party president Nitin Gadkari could do without coming as it does at a time when the BJP is gearing up to go into poll mode against a somewhat resurgent Congress.

Now it is no secret that Mr Yeddyurappa is a difficult man to deal with. But there is no escaping the fact that he has been in the BJP for decades and it was his efforts that helped the party to come to power in the south. He is also a member of the powerful Lingayat community and was until now considered an asset for the BJP. Yet, instead of dealing with him in a more circumspect manner, former party president LK Advani publicly attacked him for his indictment by the Lokayukta for his alleged role in the illegal mining scam. Mr Advani's views were endorsed by Mr Yeddyurappa's successor Sadananda Gowda, something which has infuriated the former CM. Karnataka is the BJP's gateway to the south. Despite its best efforts, it is still seen as a largely north Indian party in the other southern states. In Kerala, despite the strong presence of the RSS, the BJP has had little electoral success beyond a few productive alliances. The same is the case in the other states. Now, it would seem that it will be split wide open in Karnataka and this will mean an erosion in its vote share.

None of this is good news for the BJP in general and Mr Gadkari in particular as he begins his second term as president. He will now have to focus on firefighting within his own party instead of formulating strategies to take on the Congress. The fact that Mr Yeddyurappa has met Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has reportedly promised his support, makes things even more complicated for the BJP. While Mr Yeddyurappa has said that he is not asking anyone to join him, there is no doubt that he will gather some support. Since the target of Mr Yeddyurappa's ire appears to be Mr Gadkari who he says promised him many things but delivered on nothing, it would seem that only an initiative by the latter will serve to calm things down. The emissaries from Delhi have not had much success in reining in the Karnataka strongman. So perhaps, it is time for Mr Gadkari to open his second innings by containing the destructive batting of Mr Yeddyurappa. Otherwise the BJP is in danger of losing the match very badly in the south.


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