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Has K'taka ex-CM Yeddyurappa dashed BJPs south India dream?

Last updated on: October 16, 2011 17:54 IST

Image: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa
Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore

The BJP had bigger plans for B S Yeddyurappa and wanted to move down south to Andhra Pradesh and Kerala citing Karnataka as a model state of good governance. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

The arrest of former Karnataka Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa is an embarrassment and setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party, but the bigger issue is that the party's southern dream has been shattered, at least for now.

Yeddyurappa was no ordinary leader and even when he stepped down as chief minister two months back the entire state had expected that he would return to power. 

However, today with his arrest the return to power seems highly unlikely. He may be out on bail, but the BJP, which has been going to town on the issue of corruption, would not allow him to come back until and unless he is completely absolved of all the charges against him.

The former chief minister is facing charges in a land scam case and very soon the case against him on illegal mining will catch up. According to normal legal procedures all these cases may easily take another five years at least to complete, which means Yeddyurappa will have to stay out of the picture.


Yeddyurappa failed to live up to expectations

Image: A mine in Bellary

Speaking about the southern dream of the BJP, Yeddyurappa had instilled hope in the party when he led the party to power in Karnataka. Everyone in Karnataka said that it was Yeddyurappa alone who was responsible for the party to come to power. BJP insiders say that the man had become the face of the party and in fact was as famous as the lotus in the state.

The BJP had bigger plans for Yeddyurappa and the immediate directive to him was to provide governance so good that Karnataka turns into a model state. BJP wanted to head towards to Andhra Pradesh and Kerala from Karnataka citing the state as an example.

However, things did not work out as planned and Yeddyurappa spent most of his time fighting the Reddy brothers, corruption charges and rebellion from within the party. He was found to be busier fighting the Opposition than focusing on the development of the state. Although it would be completely unfair to say that Yeddyurappa had done no good, the expectations that people had from him were not lived up to. 


The BJP failed to cut Yeddyurappa down to size

Image: Karunakara Reddy and Janardhana Reddy

The bigger question today is why the BJP high command did not see this coming, especially when they had a dream to rule the South. Some say that they gave Yeddyurappa too long a rope and did not cut him down to size in the beginning. This is something very unbecoming of the BJP since it has always proclaimed that the ideology of the party is always bigger than the person.

Moreover, the other issue was that the party was blinded by the fact that the dominant Lingayat vote rested only on the shoulders of Yeddyurappa and they felt that angering him would erode that vote base. In the bargain they encouraged a personality cult in Karnataka.

The BJP may have managed to save their government in Karnataka, but the problems ahead are nothing but immense. They do have leaders, but none of them can be termed as a mass leader. Each one is strong in pockets and it could be safely said that none claimed the kind of support that Yeddyurappa did.

Today the BJP finds itself in a hopeless situation since the man who propelled their southern dream has become the one who has shattered it. The next two years will be very crucial. There is a lot of damage control to do. Not only does the BJP have to win back the trust of their voters, but also ensure that there is a proper leader in place before the next elections.


As CM Yeddyurappa became more of a survivor than administrator

Image: Karunakara Reddy and Janardhana Reddy

The Reddy brothers who have been the biggest funders of the party are also cut up after they were all denied a cabinet berth. The BJP has two camps and it was evident during the chief minister selection process after Yeddyurappa stepped down. A few names do crop up within the BJP, but the bigger question is whether they enjoy the stature that Yeddyurappa had.

Yeddyurappa was different in many ways. He always played on his humble background which made him connect with the voter. Even the discussions in the press club of Bangalore during the elections were centric to Yeddyurappa and most felt that the man does have promise.

Those who have watched Yeddyurappa over the years say that they do not find this level of commitment in any person within the BJP. He has been a loyalist since the Jan Sangh days of 1972. However, his first association was with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh when he was working in a rice mill in Shikaripura. He joined the RSS in 1970.

His rise has been slow but very steady and during each election meeting he spoke about his struggle which again was an instant hit with voters. In fact, the manner in which he managed to whip up the sympathy wave during the last elections was something phenomenal. He had just presented a dream budget as the deputy CM and finance minister in the Janata Dal(Secular)-BJP government and when it was time for him to take over as the CM, the JD(S) ditched him.

This is something that propelled him to power. He had become the face of the party and even veterans, such as Ananth Kumar, expected Yeddyurappa to campaign for him during the parliamentary elections.

During his stint as the CM, he became more of a survivor than an administrator. This is where his downfall had begun and especially in the bigger cities his ability was being questioned. 

I will return in six months time is what Yeddyurappa had said when he stepped down as the chief minister. Although each one in the BJP must be praying that this comes true, the fact remains that it seems a distant dream today.