Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s reported comment that he owes his government’s position to the support of 15 rebel Congress MLAs, who have since been disqualified, and more importantly the BJP central leadership, ( meaning Amit Shah) engineered their defection, has understandably raised a storm in the State.
Yediyurappa is reported to have made this comment at a closed door meeting of BJP office-bearers at Hubballi last week and a video clip that has leaked has led the Congress and the Janata Dal(S) to demand the Government’s dismissal and removal of Home Minister from the Central Cabinet.
It is easier said than done as the authenticity of the tape has to be proved first . Yediyurappa has dismissed it as doctored. But Congress and JD(S) leaders say it is common knowledge that the rebels were sheltered in BJP-ruled Maharashtra after they rebelled against the previous coalition government of H D Kumaraswamy.
Kumarswamy has said the authenticity of the tape has to be tested and he will, therefore, present it before the Supreme Court which is hearing the petitions of the rebel MLAs against their disqualification by the Speaker.
To keep the heat on the Yediyurappa Government, KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Opposition Leader and former Congress Chief Minister Siddaramiah have written to the President as well as to the State Governor.
Yediyurappa Government has just completed 100 days in office with a wafer thin, working majority in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Of the 17 Congress rebels who revolted, two withdrew their resignation and saved their seats. The Speaker disqualified the remaining 15, thus reducing the strength of the House to 209. TheYediyurappa’s Government has proved in the floor test that it has the support of 106, two additional numbers coming from independents.
The immediate reason for the crisis is the reported decision of the BJP central leadership to go for by-elections to the 15 vacant seats on Dec 15. The rebels submitted their, rather re-tendered , their resignation to the Speaker on July 12. And they did not attend the Assembly when Yediyurappa took the floor test, defying party whips.
The by-elections will have to be held before the expiry of six months, that is Jan 12 Why does the BJP central leadership want the elections ahead of the deadline?
This is because the central leadership was never happy with Yediyurappa as he was twice forced out of office because of corruption scandals. But he forced the BJP central leadership’s hands by demanding that he should be projected as Chief Minister in the last Assembly elections. Even when he led the party and got 104 seats, the BJP was sitting in the opposition and for letting the post-poll unnatural coalition government of Kumaraswamy Government fall under the weight of its own contradiction. But Yediyurappa again forced the central leadership’s hands by saying that the rebels from the Congress and the JD(S) were ready to back his attempt to grab power.
The rebels had staked their MLA seats as Yediyurappa promised that they would be accommodated in the Ministry. But with the BJP aspirants claiming their rights over the rebels for the berths, he could not take a decision on Cabinet expansion. His meeting with Amit Shah and other central leaders in the last few months also did not lead to any breakthrough.
Such being the case, it was natural that Yediyurappa should have exposed Amit Shah . The BJP State leadership, however, feels that the Congress and the JD (S) rebels have nowhere to go and it can easily win these 15 seats in the by-elections on the basis of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity.
Yedi cannot take chances as results in Maharashtra and Haryana have shown that anti-incumbency has started working against the BJP. He has to win at least six out of the 15 seats to stay in power. So, he is ready to yield to the rebels who have been demanding power and pelf
His reported statement that the BJP should be “grateful” to the rebels for helping it form the government shows he believes in honour among thieves.