Delhi dilemma delays BSY, Reddys' patch-up

Image sale Members of Gajanan Mahamandal hold a mock auction of BJP legislators during a protest demonstration in Hubli. PTI Photo

The central leadership of the BJP is a battered lot. The Karnataka crisis has erupted at a time when the high command least expected it and was, hence, least prepared to counter it. Naturally, it looked ill-equipped to handle, manage or resolve the crisis.
The latest stand-off has come after the Lok Sabha debacle was followed by another drubbing for the party in the elections to Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh. This, in addition to the dissidence that dogged Rajasthan and Uttarakhand units.

Following the LS polls, there was pressure on the party leadership to own up responsibility and the position of party president Rajnath Singh and that of its  undisputed leader – L K Advani – as Leader of the Opposition in LS became shaky. The criticism within the party and by the RSS was so sharp that in all probability, Advani will lay down office after the winter session of Parliament. Rajnath will also exit as his term ends next month.

Even before the central leadership could recover from the May LS rout, it had to address the crisis in Uttarakhand – where the party had lost badly. The dissidents were seeking the head of chief minister B C Khanduri. Finally, the CM was replaced. This was followed by the central decision to sack former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje for the defeat in the Assembly and LS polls. Raje gamely defied the leadership’s decision to remove her. She brought MLAs loyal to her to Delhi in a bid to parade them. However, when the MLAs reached the gate of Advani’s house, they were turned away. Raje gave in finally, full six months after the high command decided against her!

Weak command

These developments show how weak  the ‘high command’ was. The LS washout left it with hardly any clout that it can summon, leading to the state satraps to defy its diktat.

The LS hammering left the party divided at the top. While Advani was a pale shadow of himself, the top leadership, consisting of Sushma Swaraj, Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar were gunning for each other. Each one of them wants to become the party president.

This cast a shadow on the Karnataka imbroglio too. After Bangalore, the Karnataka drama was played out in full public eye for over a week in Delhi with the weakness of the BJP leadership exposed full length.

The top leadership was a divided house when it came to resolve the  Karnataka issue. “Or, why should it take the high command over a week to end the tussle? Is it so weak that it cannot give an ultimatum to the Reddys?”, asked a CM loyalist.

BJP insiders say a section of the party leaders were not too interested in a quick solution. Swaraj and Anant Kumar, according to them, backed the Reddys which dragged on the drama, while Jaitley stressed that “we have to move inch by inch, otherwise it will complicate things further”. Rajnath and Naidu are said to have backed the CM.

Cong and JD(S)

“The high command has failed in proper management of the party. In a national party, a state unit looks at the central leadership to provide solution. It is the question of managing differences but here the leadership has failed to do it. Those who hijacked the MLAs for a price are being honoured”.

However, sources among the leadership say it is not so. The delay took place because the Reddys had the support of a good number of MLAs. The rebels, according to them, have been told to fall in line or face action.

The Congress decision not to dabble in BJP’s affairs has come in for praise even from BJP leaders, besides Congressmen themselves. Congress, perhaps, knows the cost of joining hands with the moneyed Reddys. The Congress high command, according to Union minister Mallikarjun Kharge, has clearly told the state party leaders to stay away from the issue.

As for the JD(S), there is little it can do as it lacks the numbers with just 27 MLAs out of 224. One scenario could be: Congress taking advantage of the situation and a section of (about 20) of the BJP MLAs are sacked by the BJP (and declared unattached by the Speaker) and JD (S) offering support; or about 90 MLAs of the BJP come out and form a government with JD help. Apart from all these, there is the Anti-defection law to look at, which makes the Speaker supreme in such a scenario.
In any case, even if Yeddyurappa were to continue, the BJP government after the latest crisis triggered by the cash-rich mining tycoons from Bellary, will be a discredited one, more fragile than stable. With help from sections of the high command, there is no guarantee that the dissidents will not pitch up some demand or the other at any point of time from now on.

In such a situation, will the BJP government continue for a full term of five years? It is anybody’s guess.

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