For a man who assumed the gods are always on his side, Bookanakera Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa — or BSY — believed in the art of the possible and that no price is too high to stick on to power.
Starting as a rice mill clerk, emerging as a farmer’s leader and later becoming chief minister of the BJP’s first government in the south, BSY has seen many ups and down.
But what he hadn’t bargained for was an issue like illegal mining doing him in. His fears were always about land scams.Last November when the high command wanted him to quit after disclosures about his land gifts to his family, BSY deflected his seniors’ attention.
He brought out a detailed report on how his predecessors — particularly his archrival HD kumaraswamy (JD-S) — had gifted away state lands. That saw BJP chief Nitin Gadkari making the infamous remark: “His action may be immoral but not illegal.”
Even in April, when a SC-appointed panel reported large-scale illegal mining in Karnataka damning the state government, BSY saw a silver lining. He could rein in dissidents, particularly the Reddy brothers whose area of operation, Bellary, figured prominently in the report.
Or so he thought.
The “interim” report of the panel estimated that 304.91 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore worth more than R15,000 crore was exported from 2003-04 to 2009-10 without valid permits.
Three months ago, BSY’s stand was that he became chief minister only in 2008. His predecessors had a greater role in not checking illegal mining. Also, he was prevented from acting against the mining groups when the Reddy brothers triggered a rebellion, which was resolved under a deal brokered by central BJP leaders in 2009.
But the report of Lokayukta Santosh Hegde knocked him out. For the first time, BSY and his family stood directly indicted. The report said a trust founded by them received R10crore from a mining company and the firm “had purchased an acre of land for R20 crore” when it wasn’t worth more than R1.25 crore.
Like in November, when land scams broke, BSY declared that he won’t quit. But the message on Wednesday night from Gadkari was he must resign.
In 2008, BSY had used the “act of betrayal” by Kumaraswamy — a Vokkalinga leader — for refusing to honour a 20-month pact on rotating the chief minister’s post between them when his turn was over. Since then, BSY has managed to emerge a hero of the community by cultivating key Lingayat leaders, including their religious mutts, with the help of largesse from his government.
But, with the BJP’s big plans of taking on the UPA on the issue of corruption in the wake of A Raja dragging in PM Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram in the 2G scam, BSY looks imminently dispensable — for realpolitk.