Why is Yeddy the target of dissidents so often?
The first Bharatiya Janata Party government in south India is in disarray yet again. This time Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will have to prove his majority on October 12 with 21 MLAs resigning from the government and bringing the numbers down to 96. The magic figure is 113.
In the last two years since the BJP came to power it has faced five major crises and at least on three occasions appeared as though the government would fall. Vicky Nanjappa looks at the crises that this government has faced since it came to power in Karnataka.
1. Reddy trouble
Prior to the existing crisis, this was the biggest setback that Yeddyurappa had once he took over as the chief minister. Towards the later part of October 2009, the Reddy brothers started meeting with BJP MLAs who had a grouse against the CM. The Reddys comprising, Karunakara Reddy, Janardhana Reddy, Somashekara Reddy and their family friend Shriramulu claimed they had the support of 50 BJP MLAs and would bring the government down.
The problem started with a housing scheme in Bellary for flood-affected victims. When the CM said that all such programmes had to be government sponsored and no work could be carried out individually, the Reddy brothers were quick to react.
A cold war broke out between the two camps and the Reddys put out a list of grievances. The first was to sack Shobha Karandlage, a close aide of the CM. They also demanded the head of V Baligar, principal secretary to the CM, stating that he was acting like a proxy CM. The matter reached Delhi and the Reddys got even more aggressive in their claim and started demanding the CM's head.
However, a compromise formula was arrived at and Yeddyurappa announced in tears before the media that he had adhered to their demands.
Image: Karunakara Reddy and Janardhana Reddy
Justice Hegde resigns
The boat sailed on peacefully for nearly a year, but then state Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde tendered his resignation claiming he was unable to work independently. He alleged that the government had reinstated corrupt officials even though it had been pulled up earlier. He also said that the government had not given him suo motu powers as promised. Further, he also accused them of shielding some members of the mining lobby and said he was unable to probe the matter independently.
The resignation came as a major embarrassment for the government since it gave the picture that it was protecting the corrupt. Several other political parties in Karnataka especially the Congress used this as a plank to embarrass the government as well.
However, after a week of remaining adamant, the party high command headed by L K Advani stepped in and convinced Justice Hegde to take back his resignation. The CM promised action and acted, but the suo motu powers to try ministers has not been given as yet.
Image: Justice N Santosh Hegde
The mining scandal
This particular epsiode disrupted the Karnataka assembly for nearly two weeks. Opposition MLAs sat in dharna and even slept over at the assembly.
The issue commenced with the chief minister declaring before the assembly that several thousand crores worth of iron ore had been exported illegally. This was seen as a tactical move by the CM who wanted build up pressure on the Reddy brothers since it was expected that the entire nation would gun for them.
The gamble paid off and the Reddy brothers eventually softened their stand against the CM, but the cold war continues.
However things started getting out of hand and the Opposition demanded a CBI probe, even as the Centre closely monitored the situation. The government in the state was however adamant and said a Lok Ayukta probe would be sufficient and there was no need to rope in the CBI.
The focus then moved to the streets with the Congress conducting a padayatra to Bellary, which was again countered by the Reddy brothers, who conducted their own rally headed by Sushma Swaraj.
Image: The mines are destroying forest cover in Karnataka
The reshuffle crisis
After the mining scam and the softening of the Reddy brothers, Yeddyurappa announced that he would go in for a reshuffle.
Many political pundits saw this as a move solely to bring Shobha back into the cabinet. However, Yeddyurappa denied all allegations and went ahead and brought Shobha back into the cabinet. In the bargain he left out independent candidates, who had helped him form the government.
One of the ministers, G Shekhar even threatened to commit suicide if dropped from the cabinet. But Yeddyurappa still went ahead and dropped him. The disgruntled ministers did issue a couple of statements initially and even had the support of the Reddy brothers, who threatened to take the matter to the high command. However this issue fizzled out and the government was back on track.
Image: Yeddyurappa with Shobha
And another reshuffle
The latest crisis is nothing, but an extension of the earlier one. The MLAs who have been left out of the Cabinet have joined hands and threatened to bring down the government. Around 20 are presently camping in Chennai and threatening to bring down the government. Twenty-one MLAs have even tendered their resignations to the governor, who in turn has directed the government to prove its majority on the floor of the house.
Even as Yeddyurappa continues to send emissaries to Chennai after assuring the rebels of a good deal, it would still be an acid test for him since he will have to prove his majority on October 12.
Image: Yeddyurappa in happier times