Now, BJP leaders battle image issue

Now, BJP leaders battle image issue

State party chief believes problems still persist

Now, BJP leaders battle image issue

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, at each other’s throats two days back, were all smiles here on Monday, exchanging pleasantries, stuffing cake slivers into each other’s mouths and holding hands merrily. All’s well, they had said in Delhi when the BJP’s central leadership brokered peace.

Late on Monday evening, Reddy and Health Minister B Sriramulu held a meeting with Yeddyurappa at his Dollars’ Colony residence to work out the details on implementing the compromise reached between them. According to sources, the leaders discussed issues relating to a Cabinet reshuffle, transfer of officials and construction of houses in flood-affected places.

Speaking to reporters, Yeddyurappa said they had decided to work together for the development of the State. But he refused to divulge any details. Reddy said all issues had been sorted out and the only aim now was to rehabilitate the flood-affected people under Yeddyurappa’s leadership. “We will work round the clock and make good the time that was wasted,” he stated.

The apparent bonhomie notwithstanding, the State BJP’s image has taken a severe beating. For most State BJP leaders, including MLAs, the political one-upmanship will likely prove costly for the party. In fact, leaders like State BJP chief Sadananda Gowda, Law Minister Suresh Kumar, Energy Minister K S Eshwarappa, and Home Minister V S Acharya alike felt that the party’s image had touched a new low.

Gowda, in fact, went so far as to say that discontent continued to simmer. “It (the crisis resolved) is just a beginning. I don’t believe that all the contentious issues will be settled if two leaders share smiles and greet each other”, Gowda said.

Asked whether the issue had been resolved for good, Gowda said, “We are in the process of resolving all issues that cropped up between the two groups”. Gowda, however, promised the dent in the party’s image would be mended. Ruling out disciplinary action against the rebels, Gowda said: “I am hopeful that in the next three-and-a-half years of its tenure, the government will provide good governance”.

So strong was the antagonism between the two groups that not even Gowda could effect a rapprochement between them. He remained a mute spectator, leaving the high command to find a solution. What raised eyebrows in the government was that the Chief Minister, whose presence was required in the flood-ravaged districts, chose to camp in Delhi, looking for that elusive solution.

The thought that he had abandoned the flood victims struck him late, though he took pains later to repeatedly tender apologies for his failure to tour and work in the affected districts of north Karnataka. In much the same manner, Janardhana Reddy, who had sworn to construct homes for the homless, begged for forgivensss. “The political activities of the last 14 days affected development works to certain extent. For this I tender an apology to the people”, he said as soon as he landed at Bangalore airport this evening.

Shamed by the ugly chain of events, Law Minister Suresh Kumar said: “When the developments unfolded, I felt we were not different from any other party. We (as a party) always thought that the interests of society were more important. But the developments really shook us.”

Kumar also said it was time for the party leaders to introspect to find the reasons for the problems they were faced with. “We have to reinvent outself so that these developments do not recur”, he said. 

Energy Minister K S Eshwarappa said that the party could come to power because of the “blessings” of the people and the hard work of workers. “The incidents should not have happened. But to err is human. We request the people to excuse us. We have the strength to rebuild the party and work for the state”, he claimed.

A target of the rebels, Home Minister V S Acharya said the recent political crisis was a “blot” on the party. However, it would soon pass and the party would return to “normalcy”, he claimed, adding that some “extra effort” was required to regain party workers’ confidence.