Time to perform

The state cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday is a significant event in the state’s politics and governance, not so much for its intrinsic worth, as the process through it was achieved. It also marked a milestone in the chief ministership of B S Yeddyurappa who had to go through the humiliating experience of being blackmailed, his authority challenged and his dignity besmirched, not by the parties that are political challengers to the BJP, but from within. Despite being largely instrumental in bringing into power the first BJP government in the state, by exploiting the popular sympathy generated by the JD(S) denying him the chief minister’s chair, it was an amazing slide that Yeddyurappa suffered within 17 months of coming to power. Last October, Yeddyurappa appeared to be a pathetic shadow of the feisty political warrior that he was, sobbing in public over the armtwisting that the Reddy clan of Bellary subjected him to. He was forced to make a public sacrifice of two of his loyalists. His powers as head of the government were clipped, with Reddys’ promoters in the BJP central leadership foisting on him a coordination committee which would dictate policy decisions to him.

The erosion of authority and period of uncertainty he went through seem to have steeled Yeddyurappa. The man from Shikaripur bided his time. Adopting Abraham Lincoln’s strategy (although he may not have heard of him), Yeddyurappa decided to eliminate his enemies, by making them his friends. Slowly and inexorably, he began chipping away at the rivals’ ranks. He repaired his relationship with K S Eswarappa. Then he enticed Renukacharya with a ministership. He marked for the chop the weak links in the Reddy ranks, many of whom had no glowing record as ministers. He then convinced the Central leadership that his hands needed to be strengthened if his government had to perform and got its imprimatur on his expansion plan. Then he made the decisive move.

Now that he has got his authority back, Yeddyurappa should try and repay the faith the voters have placed in the BJP. Since its inception, his government has been a disappointment. Now he has the opportunity to make amends. He must crack the whip and convince his ministerial colleagues that they are in the government not for personal aggrandisement and to pursue outmoded agendas, but for a higher purpose. Unless he is able to do that, his victory this week will be pyrrhic. 

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