MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: There have been some strange sights on the political landscape of Karnataka over the last couple of months, but nothing is stranger than the spectacle that the BJP is trying to create over being done in so brutally by H.D. Deve Gowda and H.D. Kumaraswamy.
The wailing of the seven-day wonder, B.S. Yediyurappa, on live television; the rage and outrage of MLA C.T. Ravi; and the accumulated finger-pointing, chest-thumping and breast-beating by everybody, Rajnath Singh downwards, paints a not very wholesome picture of a national party comprising fully grown adults.
It is true that the JDS reneged on its promise of handing over power and, later, in backing Yediyurappa in the confidence vote moved by him on the floor of the House. But the BJP’s inclination to blame the JDS for the humiliation it has suffered, and to absolve itself of any role in bringing upon this ignominy, rings hollow.
The BJP’s handling of its ties with JDS has been very amateurish from the very beginning, to say the least. What prompted it to woo a party whose national president has been a known BJP baiter for decades is not very clear. By dealing with Kumaraswamy without keeping Deve Gowda in the loop may have been a safe strategy on paper, but in reality?
Who did the BJP think it was kidding by pretending it could deal independently of Gowda?
Politics is the art of the possible, but to commit the same mistake twice in a barely concealed quest for power requires a particular naviette, but none in the BJP seem to be willing to own upto it. Instead, by getting hysterical, the BJP is only underscoring what is plainly obvious to the people: that it, too, will do anything to sate its thirst for power.
Why the BJP has been so desperate has always been clear—because Yediyurappa wanted to realise his life’s ambition to somehow occupy the chief minister’s chair. Kumaraswamy’s charge that Yediyurappa demanded Rs 5 crore not too long ago to dump the BJP and join the JDS with his men underlines that desperation.
While ambition may be natural, and trust is important, the BJP has much to explain.
First, it parted with the Chief Ministership, which should have come to it legitimately by virtue of its numbers. Then, for months, the party which prides itself on its metal, bent backwards to keep the JDS pleased. It haplessly watched the loot of State power for the satisfaction of a family. And finally, when snubbed, instead of learning its lessons, it harboured fresh hopes.
How is one to feel sympathy for a party like this?
For a national party that likes to think it has the solution to every problem, the BJP totally misread the minds of both father and son, and more importantly overestimated its own political intelligence.
It thought Kumaraswamy was acting alone when he approached it. It mistook Deve Gowda’s show of anger, when Kumaraswamy “defied” him, as genuine. It thought it could do business with Kumaraswamy alone. It thought it could run circles around a former prime minister with 56 years in politics.
After befriending a foe, not once but twice, and burning its hands, not once but twice, BJP is now playing victim and crying hoarse that it has been let down. The BJP may be naive but not the people of the State.
(with PALINI R. SWAMY in Bangalore)