With the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls ending this Saturday, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) attention now turns to Karnataka where the party’s maiden rule has been marked more by rebellion and scandals than good governance.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari has summoned leaders of the warring factions of the Karnataka unit to New Delhi for a meeting Saturday to end the tussle to control the government and the party in the state.
The meeting comes ahead of bypolls to the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat March 18. Retaining it is of vital importance for the continuation of chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda as he held the seat.
The bypoll follows Gowda quitting the seat after becoming chief minister Aug 4 last year succeeding BS Yeddyurappa who quit July 31 over corruption charges.
Gowda’s stay is threatened by Yeddyurappa and his supporters who continue to flex their muscles despite Gadkari ruling out leadership change when he was here Feb 24.
Gadkari called Gowda, state unit chief KS Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa and others to come to Delhi Saturday for a meeting to find a solution to end factional battles.
But a solution seems almost impossible given the desperation that Yeddyurappa and his supporters in the state are exhibiting.
BJP central leaders, particularly party veteran LK Advani, remain strongly opposed to reinstating Yeddyurappa or making him state unit chief till he is cleared of corruption charges.
That will take years as there are around 10 cases of corruption and illegal land deals against Yeddyurappa. All are still in the trial stage.
There is also a possibility of the Supreme Court directing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into charges that he took money from two companies to allow them to mine iron ore in the state. The apex court ruling on the issue is expected any time now.
Realising that legal battles will take years, Yeddyurappa, who completed 69 years Feb 27, is painting Gowda and Gadkari black. He has virtually called Gowda a back-stabber and Gadkari a man who led him up the garden path.
“Gadkari told me that Gowda will be chief minister temporarily and I will be reinstated within four or six months,” Yeddyurappa said Feb 27.
His supporters are also claiming that Gowda had promised to quit after six months of taking over as chief minister to facilitate Yeddyurappa’s return.
The March 3 meeting in Delhi will be held in this backdrop of intensifying bitterness between the rival factions, leaving Gadkari and other BJP leaders little room for manoeuvring.
Expecting little from the Delhi meeting, Yeddyurappa’s supporters announced in Bangalore Thursday they will organise a public meeting in Hubli, about 400 km from Bangalore, March 11 to celebrate his birthday.
They plan to mobilise 100,000 people for the meeting to show to Gowda and Gadkari the “strength and support” Yeddyurappa and his faction enjoy in the state.
With no end in sight for the mess, BJP’s rule in Karnataka may be remembered for scandals in the first four years and suicidal infighting in the fifth and last year as assembly polls are due April-may 2013.