Land scam-tainted Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa will continue in office despite the allegations against him.
After days of consultations among the BJP brass, party president Nitin Gadkari made the announcement on Wednesday, though the scales had begun tilting in favour of the chief minister from Monday night itself.
“An environment of uncertainty has been created in Karnataka due to various allegations... Yeddyurappa has denied these allegations,” Gadkari said in a statement. “After consultations with senior party colleagues and state leaders, the party has decided to continue withYeddyurappa as chief minister. The state government has already constituted a commission of inquiry to look into all the allegations. I shall with adequate assistance look into the same.”
The BJP’s compulsions for persisting with Yeddyurappa are clear.
Party leaders privately claimed the Karnataka government, their first in the South, would have collapsed had Yeddyurappa been ousted.
With a very thin majority in the assembly, even a few MLAs walking out with Yeddyurappa — who made it clear he would revolt if sacked — would have doomed the Karnataka government.
Besides, voters identified the BJP so closely with Yeddyurappa, said another leader, that it was impossible to fight elections in the state without him.
The Congress took full advantage of the BJP's discomfiture, pointing to its double standards in attacking the Congress on the 2G spectrum and other scams while failing to act against its own corrupt chief minister. The Congress had forced its own chief minister in Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, and telecom minister A Raja, a member of the DMK, an ally, to resign.
“When we compare the action our party takes with that other parties like the BJP take, I think it is for the people to judge and I am confident they will judge us more positively,” Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said.
To this, BJP leader Arun Jaitley responded: “Those who have numerically more corrupt people will have more resignations. We have made a preliminary judgement (on Yeddyurappa). We are in the process of making a final judgement." But NDA convenor and ally Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) appeared far from happy. “I will talk to the BJP about this. Corruption is a national issue and cannot be aimed against just one party,” he told HT.
On Sunday, it was widely expected Yeddyurappa would go. But a day later, the chief minister —believed to have full control over the 17-18% Lingayat vote in Karnataka, the BJP’s prime votebank — had forced the central leadership to change tack.
“The Congress would love to see our only southern government go,” said one BJP leader. “Why should we sack him because they want it?”