Better set a precedent than follow, Yeddyurappa learns the hard way | india | Hindustan Times
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Better set a precedent than follow, Yeddyurappa learns the hard way

The word precedent and its various forms will resonate across India in the coming days as Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj's nod to prosecute chief minister BS Yeddyurappa over corruption charges is hotly contested or defended.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2011 10:42 IST

The word precedent and its various forms will resonate across India in the coming days as Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj's nod to prosecute chief minister BS Yeddyurappa over corruption charges is hotly contested or defended.

The legality or otherwise of Bhardwaj's decision may also be decided by courts with unprecedented speed as compared to the number of years cases take to reach even a final hearing stage.

But for Yeddyurappa the bitter lesson is already out - better set a precedent than follow one, particularly when it has been set by political rivals.

Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa will turn 68 in a just about a month from now. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), from which his Bharatiya Janata Party largely draws its strength, as a teenager.

However, as chief minister at the age of 65 he chose to emulate his Congress and Janata Parivar (family as various factions of Janata Party are called) predecessors in land allotment.

There is no convincing explanation from either Yeddyurappa or his party on what made him follow the people whom he and his party had fought against all these years.

The only defence that Yeddyurappa has offered ever since the land allotment row broke out in October-November last year is that he had done what his predecessors, who belonged to the Congress and the Janata Parivar, had done.

A weak defence or somewhat unprecedented way of justifying one's action, one might say.

But Yeddyurappa has nothing else to bank on. At least that is what all his statements on the issue establish.

He not only repeats that he had followed what his predecessors did but has ordered a judicial probe to prove he is right - that is if he had done any wrong, it is only because his predecessors also did wrong!

In a way the probe is to establish that there is a precedent even if it is not the right one to emulate!

The probe, by Justice B Padmaraj, a retired judge of the Karnataka high court, will cover various land deals over a 15-year period from 1995 to Nov 2010.

Karnataka had six chief ministers, including Yeddyurappa, during this period - H D Deve Gowda and J H Patel (both Janata Parivar), S M Krishna and N Dharam Singh (both Congress) and H D Kumaraswamy (Janata Dal-Secular). Patel has since passed away.

Yeddyurappa's predecessors are hotly contesting his claim of following the precedent set by them.

They assert that they did not allot residential and commercial plots to their kin, like Yeddyurappa has done - to his sons, daughter, son-in-law, sister, her daughter and son-in-law.

They also insist that lands 'denotified' (freed from government control) were not bought at hugely lower than market rate by people who invested in business ventures of their relatives - like it has happened in the case of Yeddyurappa.

Their argument, apparently, is Yeddyurappa has not followed the precedent they had set but has a set a precedent by favouring his kin in land allotment.

Precedents have been flaunted by both BJP and Congress leaders to silence each other.

Bhardwaj, a lawyer and a former central law minister, has cited several precedents to justify his decision to sanction Yeddyurappa's prosecution.

Yeddyurappa will continue to bank heavily on precedents as he fights off the demand for his resignation following the filing of criminal complaints against him in a Bangalore court Saturday.

"Why should I? Has any one in the past resigned just because complaints were filed against them?" Yeddyurappa shot back.