Bitter harvest

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka faces a season of bitter harvest as its former mascot-turned-rebel B S Yeddyurappa has launched a new regional party, the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), whose avowed objective is to take ‘revenge’ on the parent party for dumping him as chief minister after three years in office.

That his own actions contributed to a large extent to his downfall is of no consequence to Yeddyurappa, who can be expected to go all out to garner support for his party in the next Assembly elections less than six months away. The massive crowd that KJP gathered for its launch at Haveri on Sunday and the fact that Yeddyurappa was able to parade 14 BJP MLAs at the convention despite threat of disciplinary action, would no doubt have unnerved the Jagadish Shettar government.

At least seven ministers and four MPs loyal to Yeddyurappa were also present in Haveri, though they did not take the dais at the convention. Yeddyurappa’s challenge to Shettar to dissolve the Assembly and go for immediate elections may not be accepted by Shettar for the fear of losing the government. But the BJP government has clearly been reduced to a minority and if it continues to hold on to power, it will merely be a lame duck government.

Having sacked a minister and suspended an MP who had associated themselves with Yeddyurappa on the eve of the convention, the BJP central leadership now cannot remain silent about other ministers and MLAs defying its diktat. Not taking any action against the rebels will be seen as a weakness, which will be highly damaging for a national party.

Left to himself, Shettar may want to drag his government’s life till May when the elections will be due, but the BJP top brass should seriously think whether they should allow the sham to continue, especially with Yeddyurappa loyalists still in the ministry. The BJP will be well advised to opt for dissolution of the House and going for fresh elections to seek a new mandate from the people.

Yeddyurappa has begun on a long and arduous journey of nurturing a regional party, which he has to do almost single-handedly. In 2008, the people of Karnataka voted for Yeddyurappa as he played on the theme of ‘betrayal’ by the JD(S). He is once again playing the ‘betrayal’ tune, this time by the BJP, but whether he will garner people’s sympathy remains to be seen.

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