“All is forgotten, come back home” was perhaps the missive sent out by the BJP to its prodigal son, B S Yeddyurappa. And after months of negotiations and apparently hard bargaining, Karnataka is all set to witness the return of the native. Yeddyurappa will be back with his Parivaar any time after Sankranti.
A year is a long time in politics and so it is in Yeddyurappa’s case. Last December, he had vowed to teach a lesson to the BJP. A feat he achieved when he played a part in reducing the numerical strength of the ruling party to just 40 seats in the Karnataka assembly. BSY took away 10 per cent of the vote and a significant part of the Lingayat votebank in May 2013 in the assembly polls, denting his parent party badly.
But having scarred himself in the bargain with just half a dozen seats to show, BSY had learnt his lesson too. That united we stand, divided we fall. The demands of arithmetic is what brought the BJP and Karnataka Janatha Paksha together.
Add chemistry to the mix and the BJP reckons it has a winning formula at hand. In 2009, Karnataka returned impressive results for the BJP, winning 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats. Narendra Modi would hope for a repeat performance.
But would it be that easy? The positives are most of the KJP cadre is from the BJP and therefore the party bosses believe there won’t be much of an issue in getting the understanding going at the ground level.
Two, the party believes the voters have already punished the BJP once in the assembly polls and would not do it a second time. Moreoever, this time, the BJP would go asking for a mandate to rule from Delhi and not from Bangalore and expect Karnataka voters to display sagacity while punching on the EVM.
The hitch however is that BSY, despite the High court ruling in his favour in the illegal mining case, still faces other cases relating to land scam. His entry gives the Congress a handle to attack the BJP with though the ruling party has blunted the possible sharpness of that offensive by inducting two `tainted’ leaders – DK Shivakumar and Roshan Baig – into the Siddaramaiah cabinet.
The BJP ploy will be to attack the UPA and the Siddaramaiah government aggressively in the run-up to the elections to corner the entire anti-Congress vote. With the open alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) of Deve Gowda for the byelections in August in Karnataka failing to reap any benefits, it is unlikely that the BJP will repeat the mistake. However, do not rule out a tacit understanding to prevent a split in the opposition vote.
Meanwhile the Aam Aadmi getting traction in Bangalore could be a source of worry for the BJP. Several high-profile corporates like ex-Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan and founder of the `Aam Aadmi’ low-cost airline Air Deccan, Capt Gopinath, have joined the party in the last few days. And given AAP’s focus on corruption, the BJP would find it difficult to defend its decision to welcome BSY with open arms.
Both BSY and BJP have gone out of its way to emphasise that it is an unconditional homecoming. While that may mean that Yeddyurappa will neither be made the state party president nor the Leader of the Opposition, sources indicate that he is likely to head the campaign committee, a post that will give him a decisive say in the choice of candidates in the polls. One of them could be BSY himself, as he would like to be part of the power matrix in Delhi as state elections are still some time away.
It is quite evident that BSY and the likes of Ananth Kumar and Eshwarappa have decided to bury the hatchet for now, keeping the short-term goal of Mission 272 in mind. If the plans come unstuck, one could see a lot of vitriol on public display post May 2014. But if they manage to play a part in anointing Modi as PM, power as a glue should keep the flock together in the party.
Yeddyurappa’s grouse was that he was treated shabbily by the central leadership (read L K Advani). This time, he has chosen not to interact with Advani and is firmly in the Modi camp. That, he believes, will be his passport to re-emerging as a political force to reckon with in Karnataka.