The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) first government in Karnataka
completes three years Monday with Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa
battling corruption charges and the party central leadership
fighting to douse a row over billionaire Reddy brothers.
Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa, 68, and the state BJP unit
did not have any time to organise a huge celebration as both are
recovering from the shock that Governor H.R. Bhardwaj administered
by recommending dismissal of the government May 15.
For a week thereafter it was rallies and sit-in protests by
ministers themselves to save the party's first government in
The central government rejected Bhardwaj's recommendation May 22.
The jubilation over the "victory" was, however, marred by union
Home Minister P. Chidambaram's announcement of an "advisory" being
sent to the Yeddyurappa government on how to conduct itself to
ensure constitutional norms are followed.
As Yeddyurappa was still fuming over the central government's
move, came senior party leader Sushma Swaraj's claim that she had
no role in making the mining barons, the Reddy brothers - G.
Janardhana and G. Karunakara - ministers in the state.
Janardhana is tourism minister and elder brother Karunakara
handles the revenue portfolio.
By now Yeddyurappa seems to have learnt to live with controversies
- his own making or caused by his colleagues in the state party
unit and central leaders.
Dissidence against his leadership, three rebellions in three
years, charges of favouring kin in land allotment in and around
Bangalore, luring Congress and Janata Dal-Secular law makers to
"defect" with offer of plum positions, benevolence to his "Lingayat"
caste group - the litany of complaints against him has grown as
the years of his rule passed by.
These have taken the sheen off his pet programmes - loan to
farmers at one percent interest rate, Rs.10,000 in a bank deposit
for every girl child born after he took office to be paid to them
with interest on attaining 18 years and free cycles to students in
rural areas to encourage them to attend schools.
For all the controversies dogging him, Yeddyurappa appears to have
luck on his side, apart from the party's ability to muster
resources and manpower, as the BJP has won several polls since
More than the creditable performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls
when the party bagged 19 of the 28 seats, it has won almost all
the by-elections to the assembly and periodic elections to the
The by-polls were in fact forced by the BJP as it wooed Congress
and JD-S law makers to quit the seats and contest the by-polls as
The BJP and Yeddyurappa took up this "Operation Lotus" (lotus is
the BJP's election symbol) to gain majority in the 225-member
assembly that includes one nominated member.
The party had won 110 seats in the May 2008 polls but formed the
government with the support of five Independents, all of whom were
The party now has 120 members, including the speaker, in the
assembly. The Congress has 71 and the JD-S 26. There are six
independents and one seat is vacant.
The Congress and the JD-S dismiss the BJP's by-poll victory as
"sham" as it was "achieved by money power and abuse of official
Yeddyurappa claims people continue to vote for his party because
of "the good work of my government".
The chief minister has major problems staring at him in the coming
weeks, beginning with cabinet expansion.
He has to fill seven vacancies and the list of aspirants is too
long, sure to leave many angry whenever he does it.
Karnataka's Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde is to submit
within August his report on rampant illegal mining in the state.
The Supreme Court has already rapped the Yeddyurappa government
for not doing enough to prevent it.
Yeddyurappa, his two sons, one of whom, B.Y. Raghavendra, is a BJP
Lok Sabha member from the state, and son-in-law are facing charges
of corruption and illegal land deals.
Bhardwaj has sanctioned Yeddyurappa's prosecution. Five complaints
have been filed in a Bangalore court by two advocates against the
chief minister, two sons, son-in-law and others.
However, the high court has stayed the proceedings in the court on
a petition by son-in-law R. Sohan Kumar.
Against a backdrop of corruption charges, dissidence and a central
leadership apparently not sure of who decides what in Karnataka on
party and related matters, Yeddyurappa does not have much to
celebrate expect that he still remains the chief minister.
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