Bengaluru: B.S. Yeddyurappa, the frontrunner to replace H.D. Kumaraswamy in the top post, is waiting for a green signal from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) central leadership to meet the Karnataka governor and stake claim to form the government.
The frontrunner to replace H.D. Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa has been busy meeting party legislators and national leaders, and drawing up the next course of action ever since the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) started losing ground due to the mass resignations. The coalition eventually lost the trust vote in the Assembly on Tuesday.
“He is waiting for the go ahead from Delhi," according to a BJP spokesperson. The BJP’s parliamentary committee, which is meeting in Delhi on Wednesday, is likely to give its decision on the developments in Karnataka, the person cited above said.
Yeddyurappa, the otherwise grim faced 76-year-old, has been all smiles at the possibility of becoming the chief minister of Karnataka for the fourth time.
However, the next few days will remain crucial for the BJP as it enjoys only a wafer-thin majority, since the confidence motion was defeated 99-105, or just by six votes.
“I don't know whether the central leadership of the BJP would want the party to form a government in these circumstances. You will also become a victim to the same hostages to which the previous government was," said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst, pro vice-chancellor, Jain University, and national coordinator, Lokniti Network.
But the BJP is dependent on rebels, two independents to keep it in power for the remainder of the four-year term. R. Shankar, one of the two legislators classified as an independent, is facing disqualification proceedings under the stringent anti-defection laws after he extended support to the BJP two months after agreeing to merge his party with the Congress, and before being sworn in as a minister in Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet in June.
Yeddyurappa and the BJP will have be cautious not to repeat its earlier mistakes that not just cost it power, but took over a decade of recovering. Engineering defections has cost the party dearly in the past as the same groups have turned against Yeddyurappa, including the rebellion led by illegal iron ore kingpin, G. Janaradhana Reddy.
Yeddyurappa's first stint as the chief minister lasted just seven days in 2007 after he could not muster up the required numbers. His second stint lasted almost three years from May 2008 to August 2011, before he was forced to step down after a slew of corruption charges were levelled against him. His third stint after the 2018 Assembly elections lasted barely two days after the Supreme Court shrunk the 15-day window given to the BJP by the Karnataka governor to prove its majority to just 24 hours.
Retaining and managing Yeddyurappa remains one of the BJP’s biggest challenges, but the party is well acquainted with the adverse impact of getting rid of its incumbent state president. BJP was reduced to 40 seats in 2013 after Yeddyurappa broke away, against 110 seats in 2008.
But both BJP leaders and analysts argue that the BJP headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is very different from the management a decade ago, referring to the highly disciplined and centralised form of functioning with no leeway given to local leaders.
The BJP could become as vulnerable as the coalition if it fails to win a majority in the 15 seats that are likely to fall vacant after the resignations are accepted. According to most Congress and JD(S) leaders, many of the rebels could return to the party fold.
Also read: Opinion | The end of an unseemly drama in Karnataka