Monday, August 6, 2012

BSY, Keshubhai pinch BJP hard

Gowda Stays K’taka CM For Now

At a time when BJP chief Nitin Gadkari is busy celebrating his second son’s wedding, he has trouble on his plate from two former CMs. While former Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa poses a more formidable challenge, former Gujarat CM Keshubhai Patel could be an irritant for the BJP in a year that the state is preparing for assembly elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi. 
    With a rebellious Yeddyurappa threatening the BJP government in Karnataka with his loyalist MLAs lining up to resign if chief minister Sadananda Gowda is not replaced by Jagdish Shettar, Gadkari has decided to take the hard line as the party leadership cannot be seen as succumbing to pressure from the restive faction. 
    According to party sources, Gadkari has asked the Karnataka MLAs to take back their resignations or see them being accepted. Gowda will arrive here on Monday to attend Gadkari’s son’s wedding reception and will also attend a meeting of chief ministers at party veteran L K Advani’s residence, where the strategy for the presidential election will be discussed. 
    There will be no leadership change in Karnataka at the moment and the BJP central leadership will take up the matter after the presidential election on July 19. 
    While the party leadership has conveyed to Yeddyurappa that he cannot be made CM now, in view of the graft cases against him, the party cannot afford to do without the Lingayat leader’s considerable clout if it has to retain power in the state that goes to polls next year. Therefore, whatever resolution the party arrives at to untangle the Karnataka mess, it will have to factor in the fact that Yeddyurrappa is not left unhappy. 
    In a clear sign that the crisis has reached a point of no return, the Yeddyurappa camp on Sunday served a notice to the party bosses to replace CM D V Sadananda Gowda with Lingayat strongman Jagadish Shettar by July 5. Some 55 MLAs owing allegiance to Yeddyurappa held a two-hour meeting at Shettar’s residence on Sunday. 
    The dissidents are ready to go their own way if the BJP bosses don’t resolve the issue by Thursday, said Narasimha Naik (Raju Gouda), one of the 10 ministers who resigned and now a spokesperson for the group. 
    The other camp, too, cranked up pressure with party state unit chief, K S Eshwarappa, saying they’re ready to face elections in December. 
    However, claiming that there is no real crisis in Karnataka, senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh said, “There is no crisis in Karnataka. All problems that have occurred will be fully resolved." 
    In Gujarat, while the BJP has little option but to toe the Narendra Modi line, leaving little space for Keshubhai Patel’s demands to be met, the party would not want him to leave the fold. The leadership is therefore talking to Patel to try and convince him to not to quit the BJP. 
    While he may be a cause of irritation to the leadership, the BJP will have to consider whether the former CM can cause greater disturbance for the Modi government if he is out of the party, in a year that Modi will seek a mandate for the third consecutive term.