By T S Sudhir
The BJP’s Ram Rajya in Karnataka is going through a huge midlife crisis. Not that there haven’t been attempts before to send its `Ram’ Yeddyurappa into exile but this time the villains of the piece are not the usual Kaikeyi and Vibhishana-like domestic irritants from Bellary. The party’s Valmikis have identified that the modern-day Ravana resides in Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.
Despite the chief minister pleading with the Governor not to let loose the law of the land on him, India’s former law minister did precisely that by giving permission to two lawyers from Shimoga to prosecute the chief minister. “The sum and substance of the Cabinet decision (to dismiss the two pleas seeking prosecution) is it requires me to put a lid on the serious allegations of corruption against you (Yeddyurappa),” wrote the Governor to the CM.
So incensed was B S Yeddyurappa with the order to undergo the agnipariksha that he asked his party to shut Karnataka for a day on Saturday. Not that it matters because the state has been on autopilot for many months now. In fact, Infosys, despite its headquarters in India’s Silicon Valley, will now make Pune its largest operational base. “Corrupt leaders and lethargic bureaucracy” reportedly the reason why Infy pressed Esc.
Both Yeddy and Bharadwaj are men of letters and exchanged four letters in 48 hours, almost as if desperate to revive the dying art of letter-writing. Bharadwaj is a legal luminary who owes his political career to advising high-profile clients who reside on Janpath in New Delhi. Yeddy also a man of letters especially in the way, before TV cameras, he prefers to read out the gist of every written English letter from the text he keeps handy. Be it “We don’t approve of what the Governor did today” to “I will eat bisibelebath for breakfast today at Karnataka Bhavan.”
But the flurry of letters between Vidhana Soudha and Raj Bhavan did not help sort out matters. The relationship had already gone to seed with Bharadwaj likening his CM to a `chor’ and himself to a `kotwal’. The BJP of course had hit a six off the first ball by accusing Bharadwaj of behaving like the leader of the Opposition.
I remember when Yeddy took over as CM in May 2008, a BJP leader told me he won’t last long. When I asked him why, he replied his brusque style of functioning and temperament will not win him friends. Friendless in the real world, Yeddy has however found 548 `friends’ on facebook. What struck me as odd however was that his `interests and activities’ on his Facebook `profile’ include `Karunanidhi, YSR and Rahul Gandhi’. Good enough reason for Nitin Gadkari to issue Yeddy a showcause notice !
Jokes apart, what the crisis has done for the beleagured Yeddy is that the BJP has rallied behind him, at least for the sake of photo-ops and saving the face of the party. Yeddy has been in a spot of bother ever since the expose on his family members gaining by way of plots of land in Bangalore. Though he tried to do damage-control by asking them to return the land, his white Safari suit had been sullied. Pushed to the wall, his plainspeak won the day for him. Drop me and you lose the formidable Lingayat votebank, he reportedly warned his High command.
The saffron party which did not want to lose its gateway to south India, gave in. Now the first BJP government in south India has scored another first. Yeddyurappa is the first CM in Karnataka to face prosecution over allegations of corruption.
Over the next few days we are likely to see pathetic politics at play. The BJP versus the Governor-Congress-JD(S) troika. I don’t think the people of Karnataka prefer any one over the other for they know no one emerges out of this protracted war a winner. The biggest loser of course is Karnataka where crass political opportunism has converted governance to a big zero.
Most people believe that Karnataka Raj Bhavan is acting with the story-screenplay-produced-directed credit titles rolling from Delhi. Bharadwaj reminds one of similar attempts made during Indira Gandhi’s time by pliable Governors in Srinagar and Hyderabad. It also helps the Congress focus the country’s attention away from its own corruption to corruption in the opposition’s camp. Almost as if to force the BJP to accept that Iss hamaam me sab nange hain and then there will be no shame in being less than adarsh.
With Yeddy to go to court challenging the Governor’s sanction, an acrimonious legal battle will run parallel to the freestyle kushti in the political akhara. And one can be sure, there will be no Order, Order !