The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was left red-faced on Monday after its Karnataka state president and former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa admitted to meeting Sharanagouda, the son of Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), legislator Naganagouda Kandkur.
Yeddyurappa had initially denied the allegations made by incumbent chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy that he tried to convince Sharanagouda to ask his father to defect and join the BJP to oust the coalition government in the state.
Kumaraswamy had on Friday released an audio clip in which Yeddyurappa could also be heard saying that Karnataka assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar was compromised after taking ₹50 crore and will accept the resignation without fuss. The JD(S), and its alliance partner, the Congress, had demanded an investigation into the matter.
The BJP state leadership had rushed to Yeddyurappa’s defence following his denial and stated that an investigation could be manipulated by the state government to persecute its leader.
Ramesh Kumar, a six-time Congress legislator, had argued that the aspersions cast against him would tantamount to breach of privilege of the House. “A person named me and said if anybody is willing to resign, I will accept their resignation because Ramesh Kumar (speaker) has taken ₹50 crore," the speaker said in the House on Monday, referring to the audio clip.
The Congress’s argument prevailed as the speaker and the chief minister were in favour of constituting a special investigation team to probe the matter and submit a report within 15 days.
If the charges of poaching are proved, Yeddyurappa could face serious consequences, including disqualification.
Yeddyurappa, a leader of the dominant Lingayat community, has become an embarrassment for the party and has lost favour of the leadership in recent years, according to analysts and politicians.
“If he is not going to generate support from outside or within the party, the BJP could move away from Yeddyurappa," a Bengaluru-based political analyst said, requesting anonymity. “If the BJP backs the demand of a probe, in whatever form, it could also mean that if allegations are proven against Yeddyurappa, the party doesn’t have to go down with him."
“By admitting that he met the JD(S) leader’s son, Yeddyurappa has conceded that Operation Kamala was going on. Nothing seems to be going in his favour," said another analyst, requesting anonymity.
Yeddyurappa, however, did not elaborate on the discussions he had with JD(S) MLA’s son, and maintained stoic silence through the three-hour discussion in the House, interrupting the Congress’s Krishna Byre Gowda only once and, that too, for a few seconds.
The allegations helping the Congress continue to build on its narrative on how the BJP has been systematically trying to demolish democracy and its utter disregard for the constitution in the run up to the parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held later this year.
Talks of a backroom ‘deal’ to let off Yeddyurappa was also rife within political circles.
The analyst referring to a term coined in 2008 after the BJP allegedly devised a way to get opposition party legislators to defect in the aftermath of the assembly elections that year to get a majority.
The Congress on Monday submitted a letter to the speaker requesting the disqualification of four of its legislators, suspected to defect to the BJP.