May 14, 2011

BS Yeddyurappa is set for another battle for survival

Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa’s joy over the BJP making a clean sweep in the by-elections from the three assembly constituencies did not even last for a few hours. The Supreme Court judgment quashing the disqualification of 11 BJP and five independent MLAs has again pushed his government to the brink.
The verdict is a big blow to the chief minister, who had refused to kowtow to the directives of party high command to step down at the height of the corruption storm against him. But as someone who has shown unprecedented skill in the art of survival, Yeddyurappa is not ready to throw in the towel.
However, Yeddyurappa’s survival is now subject to the future course of action of the 16 MLAs who have regained their legislative status. While the five independents are free to go their way, the 11 BJP MLAs are not as free. The 11 MLAs will now have to return to the party fold.
The 16 MLAs met later in the evening in the national capital to discuss their future course of action. Understandably, they have preferred to keep their cards close to their chest.
Shedding their earlier belligerence, rebel leader Balachandra Jharkiholi just said, “We were never against BJP. We are still proud to be in the BJP. Our fight was only against an individual and not the party. We will decide our future course of action in a day or two.”
Yeddyurappa too has reason to see hope as much water has flowed down the Cauvery since the 11 party MLAs raised a banner of revolt in October 2010. An emergency strategy meeting held late on Friday night at the chief minister’s residence was attended by ministers Janardhana Reddy, Sriramulu and Jagadish Shettar besides others. The meeting discussed at length the ways and means to win over the rebels. According to sources close to the chief minister, talks have been initiated already with five rebel BJP MLAs.
Another Operation Lotus looms large over Karnataka as Yeddyurappa is gearing up to further consolidate his hold on the government and the party after the resounding victory in the by-polls. With Reddy brothers fighting for survival under the judicial onslaught on illegal mining in the state, Yeddyurappa sees no real strong enemies who could pose any threat in the near future.
Eight months in the wildness have taught a few lessons to the 16 rebel MLAs. Some of them have run out of steam. Yeddyurappa could see a window of opportunity here as he is yet to fill six vacant slots in his ministry. He needs the support of just three more members to touch the magic figure of 113 in the 224-member state assembly. His backroom boys are confident of having the last laugh this time too.
For any more defiance on part of the rebels will only lead to collapse of the government, at the worst. Not all of them are resourceful enough to fight an election now and definitely not all of them are confident of getting elected again. So the state is all set to witness yet another round of political high drama as Yeddyurappa gears up to unleash one more operation for his survival. The results of the by-elections too have come in handy for the chief minister in this battle of nerves.

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