If 10% of a population holds a view contrary to majority conviction, the minority view is very quickly accepted by the majority, says a new scientific study released this week.
It was as though the BJP in Karnataka was out to validate this research finding, two days after it was released in the US.
Within 24 hours of his indictment by the Lokayukta — and three days after 19 ministers and 30 legislators showed up to support him at a press conference after he returned from a Mauritian holiday — Karnataka Chief Minister Bookanakera Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa found himself quite alone on Thursday.
"Whatever the party high command says is final," said home and transport minister R Ashoka, who until Wednesday stood by Yeddyurappa. "Rajnath Singhji and Arun Jaitleyji will decide on a new leader tomorrow."
Support for the former rice-mill clerk who led the BJP to a series of electoral victories and is the only one of his party’s 121 MLAs to enjoy a mass base — primarily rural, religious and semi-urban — declined immediately after the party high command on Thursday morning asked the disappointed, defiant Yeddyurappa to step down during a meeting that ended at the residence of BJP President Nitin Gadkari past midnight.
Karnataka's failed rebellions
Chief Minister Devaraj Urs (Congress)
Rebelled against: Indira Gandhi
Result: Tried to start a new party with few loyalists. Failed.
Chief Minister: Veerendra Patil
Rebelled against: Rajiv Gandhi
Result: Suffered a stroke, replaced while he recovered
Chief Minister: S Bangarappa
Rebelled against: P V Narasimha Rao
Result: Claimed support of most MLAs; they switched when he was removed
"He (Yeddyurappa) will definitely understand the decision of the high command," said law minister Suresh Kumar.
But Yeddyurappa did not. When he demanded the state BJP president’s post in return for his resignation, party leaders told him to first resign. The current president K Eashwarappa called a party legislative meet for Friday, summoning all local leaders, including Yeddyurappa. Yeddyurappa in turn called a cabinet meeting on Thursday evening. Eashwarappa warned ministers not to attend.
Yeddyurappa might try to play hardball, but it is unlikely he will launch a rebellion, as three Karnataka Congress chief ministers did (see box) and failed.
"He (Yeddyyurappa) considers the party his mother," said T Ravi, BJP MLA and a loyalist.
Till Wednesday night, Yeddyurappa was defiant, dismissing the Lokayukta’s report as "old issues", insisting he would serve out his terms. But it was clear his party was abandoning him when no more than 15 ministers and MLAs showed up — though three times that number were in town — when he called a party meeting on Wednesday to assess his strength.
Yeddyurappa still hopes to control the levers of power, and given his electoral influence over the party, it will not be easy to prise his hands off them.