The Karnataka BJP leader appears to be on his way to join LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi
In less than 24 hours, the central leadership of the BJP appears to have delivered two messages that have shaken the high pedestal on which its tallest leader BS Yeddyurappa stands.
First it was the induction of four MPs from Karnataka, including Nirmala Sitharaman who is elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, into the central cabinet.
With the exception of the Union Finance Minister, the other three members - Sadananda Gowda, Prahlad Joshi and Suresh Angadi - belong to factions that are opposed to Yeddyurappa.
The message from the central leadership to the man who single-handedly brought the BJP to power in 2008 was that we do not accept any of your proposals for induction into the ministry. Even the name of Yeddyurappa's close associate, Shobha Karandlaje, was ignored.
“The signal to Yeddyurappa is clear. He is no more the undisputed leader. With this cabinet formation, the central leadership has made that clear,” said a party leader who spoke on condition of anonymity. Party leaders were not prepared to be quoted for this story.
The second message has come soon after this. The central leadership has communicated to the Karnataka unit that it should not do anything to destabilise the JDS-Congress coalition government.
In simple words it means that the efforts to lure Congress and JDS MLAs with the promise of ministership in a prospective BJP government should stop.
The allegation against the BJP was that it was re-launching Operation Kamala by which Congress and JDS MLAs would be made to resign from the membership of the legislative assembly.
Such a step would help in reducing the strength of the assembly so that the BJP gets to form the government. The BJP has 105 members in the House of 224 members.
Ironically, this decision of the central leadership was announced by none other than Yeddyurappa himself. The implications of this decision are two-fold.
“We are given to understand that the central leadership does not want the current focus on the first 100 days of the Central government to dissipate with negative publicity of the BJP trying to destabilise the coalition government in Karnataka,” said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
If the state unit or the Yeddyurappa camp was able to lure the MLAs - it needed at least a dozen more to add to the six Congress MLAs it already had - the prospects of Yeddyurappa becoming the chief minister for a second time appear bright.
But now that the central leadership has issued a directive it means that it expects the coalition government to fall of its own accord.
“Then the party leadership can think of holding a mid-term election sometime in November-December and getting a leader of its own choice as chief minister instead of Yeddyurappa,” said a senior leader of the BJP.
The primary objective, of course, is to apply the eligibility clause on Yeddyurappa and push him into the Margadarshak Mandal. Yeddyurappa celebrated his 75th birthday last year.
“It will also help the central leadership to promote a younger face. Who that face will be, is not clear yet. But the leadership would prefer it rather than have an adamant leader like Yeddyurappa,” said another leader.
Will this not affect the Lingayat vote bank of the BJP if Yeddyurappa is slighted?
Said Professor Mussafar Assadi, professor of political science, Mysore University – “The party thinks that it has transcended caste. That members of all communities have voted for it. And that is because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the biggest and only vote catcher for the party.”
In fact, this is the approach that has made the party choose only MPs from upper castes like the Vokkaliga (Sadananda Gowda), Brahmin (Prahlad Joshi) and Lingayat (Suresh Angadi) to join the ministry.
This is despite all the seven reserved Lok Sabha constituencies electing BJP candidates from among the 25 seats that the party out of 28 seats in the state. In the previous ministry, the BJP had a Dalit minister in Ramesh Jigajinagi as a minister of state.
In the midst of all these developments in the BJP and the coalition partners trying to grapple with dissidents come reports of the Congress winning the largest number of members in the elections to the urban local bodies (city corporations, city and town municipal councils).