BSY rebellion changed State's political course

If the two major Opposition parties in Karnataka — the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) (JD-S) — are closing 2012 with hopes of strengthening their base by netting potential candidates from other parties who can win the next Assembly elections for them, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is shattered and on a shaky ground, thanks to former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

Indeed, Yeddyurappa himself is not in a comfortable position though he often exhibits bravado.

On November 30, Yeddyurappa did what he had been threatening to do. He severed his four-decade-long association with the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to launch a regional party – the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). And, this was the major political development in 2012. It has also set the tone for the next year’s Assembly elections.

With the birth of the KJP, the State now has three regional parties – B Sriramulu’s BSR Congress, which even after an year is still struggling to establish itself as a force to reckon with except in certain Assembly segments dotting the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border; and the JD-S controlled by the H D Deve Gowda clan. Yeddyurappa, a known slogger, is trying to eat into every party’s traditional vote bank.

One of the biggest political rallies the State witnessed this year was the KJP convention at Haveri on December 9. Yeddyurappa strategically chose Haveri, a Lingayat belt, to exhibit his strength and, he, indeed, proved that he is a good organiser.  Members of his coterie who are ministers in the Jagadish Shettar Cabinet, expressed their solidarity by having breakfast with him. But they declined to take the risk of losing their positions by actually attending the convention.

For the Lingayat community, which constitutes around 17 per cent of the State’s population, Yeddyurappa is no doubt the leader.

Losing a mass leader such as Yeddyurappa was the last thing the BJP expected, just a few months ahead of the elections.

From November 30, the day Yeddyurappa quit the party, the BJP is busy only countering his moves.  After the Gujarat elections, the party is drawing solace by claiming that Yeddyurappa would end up as the Keshubhai Patel of Karnataka, post-2013 elections. But the party is shy to admit that it lacks a Narendra Modi to pack off its opponents.

One politician who through the year issued statements threatening to oust either the chief minister or the BJP government was Yeddyurappa. In fact, he succeeded in replacing D V Sadananda Gowda with Shettar on July 11. He has now set January 15 as the deadline for the Shettar government to perform to his expectations or face the consequences.

Congress camp

The Congress, which is waiting for the BJP to liquidate on its own, began the year with a bang by winning the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in the byelection and, thus sent shivers down the spine of the BJP leadership which had taken the coastal districts for granted.

The saffron party did not rope in Yeddyurappa for campaigning knowing well that it would have been detrimental in that region.

However, on June 12, the Congress suffered a set back when its MLC candidate Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi lost the election. The defeat only highlighted the lack of strategy and unity among senior Congress leaders.

Siddaramaiah continued to show his displeasure. In the in the first week of June, he  even sent AICC President Sonia Gandhi a letter of resignation to, proposing to step down as Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. In it, he claimedthat he had not been consulted before finalising four candidates for the MLC elections. But, eventually he continued as the Opposition leader.

Another significant development in the Congress was the return of former chief minister S M Krishna (who stepped down as External Affairs minister) to Bangalore on October 2. So far, there is no clear word from the Congress high command as to what role he will don in the run-up to the elections.

At the present time, he has not been given any position in the party.

JD-S fails to expand

The JD-S, a national party which has been reduced to a regional outfit, has to now face another regional party, the KJP, besides the two national parties.
With Yeddyurappa briskly touring the Vokkaliga belt in the Old Mysore region during third week of December and also roping in farmers’ leaders to his party, the JD-S has been left with no choice but to work overtime.

A group of fringe parties and organisations have extended support to the KJP, claiming that the “Third Front” will play a decisive role in the next polls.

Despite all the upheavals, the Shettar government did manage to hold the winter session of the legislature in Belgaum’s Suvarna Vidhana Soudha. But, the official business transacted was nothing worth reporting about.

The Opposition parties were so “keen” to participate in the deliberations that they boycotted the Houses when more than a dozen bills, including those allowing establishment of private universities, were passed.

Finally, the year is coming to an end with indications that the political instability is set to continue even in the year to follow.

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