Advani's blog adds to BJP troubles in Karnataka

Advani's blog adds to BJP troubles in Karnataka

Advani's blog adds to BJP troubles in Karnataka

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani's honest assessment of his party's scandalous rule in Karnataka is a bitter pill to swallow for many of his colleagues in the state.

The BJP veteran has spoken in the past as well about the way his party and its first chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa conducted themselves in the state, ever since it came to power for the first time in May 2008.

However, his reference to the "bungling" in Karnataka, in his latest blog, is leading to a war of words between Yeddyurappa and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who succeeded him Aug 4 last year but was forced to quit July 11 this year.

In the blog, Advani wrote, among other things, that "so far as BJP is concerned, the bungling in Karnataka notwithstanding, all recent public opinion surveys clearly reveal that the principal beneficiary of the Congress' fast-eroding reputation continues to be the BJP."

Gowda is in full agreement with Advani's assessment. But Yeddyurappa, whose rebellion led to the fall of Gowda, whom he had handpicked to succeed him last year, is bristling.Advani has been unhappy with Yeddyurappa as his little over three-year rule was marred by various scandals including a rape charge against a minister.

Yeddyurappa himself is facing over a dozen cases of corruption and illegal land deals.  He was forced out of office over mining bribery charges, which are now being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation under the direction of the Supreme Court.

Gowda, whose 11-month rule did not see any scandals, told reporters in Bangalore, a day after Advani's latest blog, that "his analysis is based on facts"."What Advani said in his blog is true as the party did not meet the expectation after coming to power in the state," Gowda asserted.

But Yeddyurappa is seeing red and is challenging Gowda to substantiate the charges against him.

As a former chief minister he should "issue statements with a sense of responsibility. He should come out in the open and talk about corruption, if any, during my rule", Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bangalore Tuesday.

He virtually blamed Gowda for Advani getting it all wrong about him."It is because of such statements a wrong message is reaching Advani," Yeddyurappa said, and claimed "that Advani had appreciated my work as a chief minister but now the opinion has changed."

The blame game sparked off by Advani's latest blog is set to further deepen the divisions in the faction-ridden BJP Karnataka unit as assembly elections are fast approaching.Even before Advani's blog taking a dig at Yeddyurappa, the former chief minister's supporters have been attacking Gowda with one of them claiming there was no government at all for 11 months.

With Gowda endorsing Advani's assessment and Yeddyurappa hitting out at him, people of the state are in for an intensified slugfest among BJP groups.

The party is already saddled with the burden of re-allocating portfolios to ministers since Jagadish Shettar took over from Gowda July 12. Ministers supporting Gowda are demanding plum portfolios now held by those backing Yeddyurappa.

There is also another group of over 20 of the party's 119 legislators in the 225-member assembly that is demanding ministership or the posts of head of government-run corporations and boards which come with perks and privileges.

The party has also to decide on a new state unit chief as the incumbent K.S. Eshwarappa's tenure expires this year-end. He has been made one of the two deputy chief ministers as a balancing act.

Gowda is eying the post but Yeddyurappa is resisting the attempt.In the midst of these tussles, the Shettar government has to tackle the worst drought in 40 years - 146 taluks (revenue sub-divisions) out of the state's 176 taluks have been declared drought-hit.

Given the poor state of the BJP in Karnataka at a time of a severe crisis of drought, it is a small consolation for people that Advani is at least acknowledging that the party has bungled the first opportunity it got in southern India to showcase its ability to provide good governance.