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Budget session ends, ruling BJP leadership tussle resumes (Karnataka Newsletter)

Karnataka,Politics, Sun, 01 Apr 2012 IANS
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Bangalore, April 1 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved one more dubious distinction in its troubled rule in Karnataka. It barely managed a smooth end to the last budget session of its maiden rule in the state, facing trouble from its own members over the leadership issue.

 

The 10-day session ended Friday after approving the budget for 2012-13, the first to be presented by Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda. The session was marred with more than half of the BJP's 120 legislators in the 225-member assembly boycotting the session for a day seeking Gowda's removal.

 

The boycott would have continued for more than a day but for BJP national leaders promising Yeddyurappa, who quit July 31 over mining bribery charges, they would consider his demand if he ensures smooth passage of the budget.

 

With the session ending Yeddyurappa has resumed his manoeuvres to get back the chief minister's post.

 

He made his supporters organise a huge rally in his hometown Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore, Saturday to show his strength while Gowda stayed in Bangalore attending a meeting of women members of the BJP.

 

The former chief minister claimed that several party colleagues were working for his downfall and declared that he has risen in the party because of people's support and not because of "any godfather".

 

State BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa, who too hails from Shimoga and is against Yeddyurappa's return till cleared of all corruption charges, did not attend the Shimoga rally.

 

Yeddyurappa's pressure tactics have become more pronounced after the high court March 7 set aside the July 27 Lokayukta (ombudsman) findings that his family members had taken bribes from two iron ore mining firms.

 

Saturday's meetings followed what is being derided as the BJP's "food politics for power" as Yeddyurappa Friday hosted a breakfast in Bangalore for party legislators, while Gowda's supporter and Culture Minister Govind Karajola organized a lunch in the afternoon.

 

Gowda and Eshwarappa stayed away from the breakfast show while Yeddyurappa made it a point to attend the lunch, apparently to keep the party's national leaders in good humour as they now have to take a firm decision whether to re-instate him or placate him with another position or tell him to first come clean of all corruption charges against him.

 

Separate meetings and breakfast and luncheon politics seem set to continue in the state till BJP national leaders act decisively to end the leadership tussle .

 

They may heave a sigh of relief that the budget has been passed and think they have more leverage now to bargain with Yeddyurappa and his supporters.

 

However, they can ill afford to continue to buy time to settle the issue as assembly elections are due in just about a year and the Congress has become buoyant after its March 21 victory in the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency byelection.

 

The bypoll followed Gowda vacating the seat after becoming chief minister.

 

Yeddyurappa boycotted the bypoll campaign to express his resentment against party national leaders for not keeping their word to re-instate him if he is cleared of mining bribery charges.

 

The defeat of the party candidate has come as a booster for Yeddyurappa's reinstatement bid as he and his supporters have been claiming that only he can lead the party to victory in elections.

 

Unsure of the party's electoral prospects without Yeddyurappa at the helm, BJP national leaders banked heavily on procrastination as the best way to solve a recurring problem in the state unit.

 

Unfortunately time is running out both for them and Yeddyurappa and indecision may cost the party, already burdened with corruption, rape, porn viewing and illegal land deals charges, heavily in the only southern state it came to power after decades of being on the margins.

 

(V. S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

 

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