Modi effect: Yeddyurappa syndrome returns to haunt Karnataka BJP

Bangalore, June 22 (IANS) The BJP's Karnataka unit is gung-ho, like a section in the party, over Narendra Modi's ascendancy. However the Gujarat chief minister's rise also seems to have emboldened former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa's supporters in the party to step up the campaign for his return before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

While only Bharatiya Janata Party legislator G. Madhusudan has written a letter to party president Rajnath Singh to get Yeddyurappa back, many of the former chief minister's supporters are said to be lobbying away from public glare for his return.

The lobbying has picked up pace following Modi's appointment as head of the party's campaign panel for the Lok Sabha polls, which is taken to mean the near total marginalization of party veteran L. K. Advani.

Advani was a strong critic of Yeddyurappa as his over three-year rule in Karnataka was mired in scandals relating to sex, rape, corruption and illegal land deals. The veteran leader was also highly critical of the way the BJP central leaders had handled the Karnataka issue.

Yeddyurappa supporters apparently believe the Advani era in the BJP is over and hence it is time their leader returned to the party. Yeddyurappa is a great admirer of Modi and is said to be on good terms with him. He had hinted at his willingness to return to the BJP soon after Modi's nomination as campaign panel chief.

His supporters in the BJP are also encouraged to carry on their campaign as the state party leadership has not categorically stated that Yeddyurappa would not be taken back. This is because the state leadership is not sure of the central leaders' stand on the issue.

The state leadership's stand has been that a decision on such issues is taken by the BJP's central parliamentary board.

This prevarication is in spite of Yeddyurappa forming the Karnataka Janata Party with the main aim of "rooting out the BJP from the state".

Yeddyurappa may never realise his goal of uprooting the BJP in Karnataka. But he did damage the party in the May 5 assembly elections that saw the party lose power after one term in office.

The BJP won just 40 seats in the 225-member assembly while it had bagged 110 seats in 2008.

Yeddyurappa's KJP fared worse, winning only six seats, including his own. However, the KJP did hit the BJP badly in around 30 seats, a fact acknowledged by state BJP itself.

Though the issues on which the assembly and Lok Sabha elections are fought differ widely, for both the BJP and Yeddyurappa it is a question of cutting losses.

Modi is still untested as a national vote gatherer and has not made much of an impact in Karnataka in this year's and the 2008 assembly elections.

Modi will also find it difficult to resolve the Yeddyurappa issue early as taking him back when he is fighting over a dozen cases of corruption will only blunt the BJP's campaign against graft of the Congress-led central government.

These aspects and the fact that the state BJP lacks a leader with an all-Karnataka appeal mean that the party will have to live for a long time with the dilemma on whether to take Yeddyurappa back or not.

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

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Matches