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BJP's southern dilemma

The fear of Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj and sheer lack of clear numbers on either side are reasons why BS Yeddyurappa and the BJP leadership cannot afford a divorce — though they have no love lost.

delhi Updated: Jul 28, 2011 23:35 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The fear of Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj and sheer lack of clear numbers on either side are reasons why BS Yeddyurappa and the BJP leadership cannot afford a divorce — though they have no love lost.

BSY dreads Bhardwaj, who recommended the dismissal of his government a few months ago but, fortunately for him, was overruled by the Centre. He is the only CM to survive two trust motions within a week.

This time, Bhardwaj has a copy of the lokayukta report, which forced the BJP parliamentary board to ask BSY to quit immediately.

Though asked to resign, BSY has sought to buy some time. This has fuelled speculation that he has some game up his sleeves.

Undoubtedly, BSY wants to have a say in the choice of his successor, the new ministry and key party issues. He is believed to have conveyed to Gadkari that he will quit but astrological factors were in the way of his putting in the papers till July 31.

The BJP knows BSY is a tricky customer. That's why the high command's decision was announced in the morning to counter his open defiance and public refusal to resign by calling a meeting of his cabinet and BJP MLAs.

With 116 MLAs in the BJP, BSY cannot easily effect a two-third split. Similarly, the BJP high command cannot show him the door because BSY can cause a sizeable number of MLAs to rebel.

Wary of his previous behaviour, the BJP didn't take chances this time — publicly declaring he had been "advised" to quit, holding that it would respect his wishes in the succession issue.

BSY began his tenure in May 2008 when he was short of a majority in the Assembly. But he hit upon "Operation Lotus", taking cue from Goa CM D Kamat who switched from BJP to Congress and cobbled up a slender majority by luring opposition MLAs and independents who were made to resign and contest and win bypolls.

BSY's gambit paid off, enabling BJP to secure a majority in the 225-member House. The BJP acknowledges grudgingly that without BSY the party's first southern government would have never been a reality. But, at the same time, BSY has to be handled with care.