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Losing the upper hand

By not sacking the Karnataka CM, the BJP has lost the moral right to criticise the Congress on corruption.

india Updated: May 21, 2011 17:00 IST

The BJP, it’d appear, has settled for being the party with differences rather than the party with a difference. This explains why despite opposition from within its ranks, it’s decided to allow Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa to remain in the saddle, even as allegations of corruption dog his footsteps relentlessly. Mr Yeddyurappa has displayed a gamut of emotions ever since his troubles began. From swearing deference to the party high command to outright defiance, he played all the aces up his sleeve and has come up trumps.

One of his gameplans has been to ask the high command to move against the Bellary brothers in Karnataka — alleged to be involved in gigantic mining scandals — before taking action against him. This inaction on the part of the BJP takes away some of the sheen from its spectacular victory in Bihar where a fortuitous alliance with chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has seen the saffron party race past the finishing line. The BJP’s move to retain Mr Yeddyurappa hasn’t been lost on its victorious Bihar ally, which has expressed its disappointment at the leniency shown to a CM perceived to be tainted. Mr Yeddyurappa’s new lease of life appears to be thanks to the powerful Lingayat community that may have got restive had he been sacked. Moreover, panchayat and zila parishad elections are coming up in the state and the party doesn’t want to take chances.

The BJP’s caste/community politics may pay dividends in the short-run. By retaining him for local electoral gains, it’s lost the moral right to launch a full-scale offensive against the ruling Congress at the Centre on the festering issue of corruption. Like Caesar’s wife, the BJP must be beyond reproach if it wants to put the government on the mat on financial misappropriation. But its caving in on the Yeddyurappa issue suggests that neither is its house in order nor its forces fighting fit to take on the UPA government.

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