‘Mining scam has destroyed BJP’s 2014 hopes’

The BJP likes to see the B.S. Yediyurappa problem like it has done the Narendra Damodardas Modi problem: as a local problem of a local leader. But in the era of 24×7 television and with national parties like the BJP and Congress becoming franchise operations, how you deal with a local problem can have far-reaching national impact.

Editorial in the Economic & Political Weekly (EPW):

“The massive loot of iron ore in Karnataka under the BJP government has been known for some time. The role of the “Reddy brothers” of Bellary, both prominent BJP leaders and state ministers, in the affair has also been well known. Until now Yediyurappa and the BJP government had been seen to be unable to stop these two barons of Bellary because of their money power and patronage of the saffron party.

“What the report of the Lok Ayukta and retired Supreme Court judge, Santosh Hegde, has done is to provide strong proof of the direct involvement of Yediyurappa and his family in the illegal mining and export of iron ore. The report has also exposed the entire BJP government in Karnataka as corrupt.

“The two will only further degrade the attempts by the BJP to position itself as a credible alternative to the Congress at the Centre. But given the large number of corruption cases the UPA itself is involved in, the Congress cannot be relieved at the BJP’s discomfiture.

“What the report has really done is to destroy the credibility of the principal opposition party with regard to corruption. This may cost it dearly in 2014….

“While both the BJP and the Congress share a consensus on the broad contours of economic policy, there is one significant difference in the way they deal with the popular anger and opposition to the growth obsession. The BJP tries to deflect this anger by deploying religion in public spaces and communal divisions within communities; the Congress seems to primarily rest its political strategy on throwing sops and making some concessions to popular demands.

“The latter appears preferable only because the former is so dangerous to social life. The real alternative to such corruption and loot cutting across political parties is for the emergence of an alternative politics and a different set of policies. That, unfortunately, does not appear to be a real possibility in the present times.”

Read the full editorial: Karnataka’s landmine