Bangalore: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be gambling by changing its Karnataka chief minister - ostensibly with assembly elections in view, even though it is evident that it is because of dissidence and caste politics.
It replaced chief ministers twice in the past - in Delhi in 1988 and Uttarakhand last September - with polls in mind and lost both times. The party is perhaps hoping that it will be third time lucky and the Karnataka electorate will not reject the party in the elections due next May.
The polls may be held earlier as the factionalism that has dogged the state unit since May 2008 when the party came to power for the first time in the state shows no signs of easing.
There are not many takers even in the BJP Karnataka unit that D.V. Sadananda Gowda is being replaced as chief minister by Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar in view of the elections.
The change has been forced by Shettar and eight other ministers resigning from the Gowda cabinet to force the party to accept their demand, orchestrated by BJP's first chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa who quit last July over mining bribery charges.
In 1988, the BJP forced a reluctant Sushma Swaraj, who was union information and broadcasting minister, to take over as Delhi chief minister from Sahib Singh Verma when elections were only few weeks away.
The party was soundly thrashed by Congress.
Then, just last September, showing the BJP does not learn any lesson even from a recent event, the party brought back retired major general B.C. Khanduri in Uttarakhand hoping to win the elections months away by wiping out the damage caused by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
It lost, though very narrowly.
The only state, where the party is a dominant player and has not faced as many problems, is Gujarat.
But then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has grown too strong and perhaps too tall for the so called BJP high command or national leadership to give him any direction or suggestion or advice.
He is in fact law unto himself as far as the party is concerned.
Yeddyurappa did try to do a Modi in Karnataka.
However, he was gambling, like his national leadership has begun to, because the court battles the two are fighting are entirely different.
Modi is fighting charges of either encouraging or not doing enough to control the Godhra carnage while Yeddyurappa's fight is all about making money by doling out government land and licences.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari announced in New Delhi with great flourish Sunday that all is well in Karnataka as Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda has quit, as a disciplined soldier of the party, to make way for Shettar.
It is a different matter that Gowda quit because nine of his ministers, including Shettar, had quit the cabinet to force the high command hand.
Yeddyurappa orchestrated the rebellion after realising he cannot become chief minister until he gets a clean chit from the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the mining bribery charges on the direction of the Supreme Court.
But, on Tuesday, Gadkari and the BJP high command were shown that the Karnataka unit has more fighters for power than the so called disciplined soldiers fighting for a cause.
Gowda's supporters insisted on making him the party president and the incumbent K.S. Eshwarappa deputy chief minister as a condition to formally choosing Shettar as the party's new chief minister.
As and when Shettar takes over, he will be the third chief minister of the BJP in four years of its maiden rule and his term will end May next, if not earlier, either due to dissidence or dissolution of the assembly.
Given the free for all in the Karnataka unit, for Gadkari and the BJP national leadership wanting the people of the state and the country to believe that the change of guard is to win the next elections cannot be anything more than a wishful thinking.