Karnataka's politics can be terminal for the BJP

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 30, 2013 20:12 hrs

Bangalore: It seems that the woes afflicting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Karnataka can become terminal. The party was plunged into yet another crisis with the resignation of two ministers owing allegiance to former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. What is more, at least 13 MLAs have sought to resign their Assembly seats. 

So far the resignations of 12 of them have been received by the Speaker of the Assembly; one has been rejected on technical grounds. Mr Yeddyurappa is himself in trouble. The Karnataka Janata Party, which he was seeking to use as his new political pedestal, has removed him from its presidentship. If no other MLAs resign, the BJP government will continue to enjoy a majority on paper in the Assembly. 

This is important as the state Assembly meets for the budget session in barely a week and the state budget is to be presented on February 8. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar might be asked to prove his majority beforehand, which will reveal whether he's on shaky ground.

The political manoeuvrings currently on indicate, if it was not already starkly clear, that the state administration has been stalling and marking time ever since Mr Yeddyurappa declared open war against the present government last month by holding a rebel rally in which 13 MLAs participated. His political brinkmanship is threatening the state's budget; the collateral damage that this is inflicting on Karnataka's development and governance is enormous. 

Once the uncertainty ends, the process of restoring normalcy can commence. Unlike in many other major states of late, recent elections in Karnataka have not been seen to be fought on questions of governance or any other political issue; it remains to be seen if caste mobilisation and other such matters dominate this one, too.

The BJP will look on its much-celebrated first government in a southern state as a disappointment. Far from delivering any kind of effective governance, it was long under the shadow of allegations of corruption involving land and illegal iron ore mining. When last year Mr Yeddyurappa was forced to resign after being accused by the Lokayukta of corruption, there was a brief interregnum of purposefulness under Sadananda Gowda. 

But, due to disagreements with Mr Yeddyurappa, Mr Gowda was forced to quit. Things have gone from bad to worse under Mr Shettar, a figurehead without the political capital to do serious business. Unless the Assembly elections change the party's direction there, the BJP will go into the next parliamentary elections with an extremely poor report card for its stewardship of the fortunes of Karnataka for a full term. 

This does not augur well for the party's ability to use corruption and misrule as electioneering planks against the politically weakened United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.

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