BJP caught in Yeddyurappa flip-flop on his return

Bangalore, July 13 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party does not seem to have learnt any lessons from its messy handling of the Karnataka unit's affairs in the last five years, even after losing power in the only southern state it managed to come to power in.

The party is again tying itself in knots over B.S. Yeddyurappa, its first chief minister in Karnataka, whom it removed from the post over mining bribery charges in July 2011. He is also fighting scores of corruption cases in courts in the state.

The party appears willing to take back Yeddyurappa, who left BJP in last December to head the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP).

However, the party is clearly scared at the same time as it is not sure of the impact such a move will have on its claim to have zero-tolerance of corruption and on its prospects in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which it is confident of winning to return to power in Delhi.

This dilemma has left the party in the state virtually at the mercy of Yeddyurappa, who too continues to flip-flop on his plans.

Sometimes he claims the BJP's central leaders are in touch with him over his return to the party. At others he says no one from central leadership has talked to him about his return.

This week itself Yeddyurappa changed his tune twice. On Wednesday, he said he is willing to talk to anybody in the BJP over his return to the party. On Thursday, he said there was no question of returning to the BJP but he was ready for seat adjustments for the Lok Sabha elections.

Almost at the same time, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar was hinting to reporters in New Delhi that the party was willing to take back Yeddyurappa!

The confusion, both in the BJP and Yeddyurappa, over their future in Karnataka is understandable as both have become weak in the state after he walked out of the party ahead of the May 5 assembly poll.

The KJP won just six seats, including Yeddyurappa's, in the poll, which BJP lost heavily to Congress.

The BJP lost 70 of the 110 seats it had won in the 225-member assembly in 2008.

The drubbing has shattered the BJP's morale and there is little hope of the party repeating in the Lok Sabha polls its excellent performance of 2009 when it won 19 of the 28 seats in the state.

Even the euphoria generated soon after the appointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign chief has evaporated in the party's Karnataka unit.

So much so that a section of BJP state leaders, led by former chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Bangalore North Lok Sabha member D.B. Chandre Gowda was in New Delhi July 8 to lobby with party president Rajnath Singh and other central leaders to take Yeddyurappa back at the earliest.

Rajnath Singh has apparently asked them not make any public statement on the issue and the central leaders will take a decision at appropriate time.

Such assurances are only adding to the confusion in the state unit, where one group is opposed to Yeddyurappa's return.

Going by the way the BJP has managed its Karnataka affairs since 2008, it looks like the party will remain on the same messy track as the focus is more on capturing power in Delhi at the earliest.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

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