The “former future prime minister of India“, Lalchand Kishinchand Advani‘s much-ballyhooed anti-corruption yatra—with the 2G scam tainted Niira Radia‘s former western ballroom dance partner, the HUDCO scam tainted Ananth Kumar, as navigator—has rolled off on the wrong note.
First, a BJP MP has been accused of trying to buy coverage for the anti-corruption yatra by bribing journalists. And now, B.S. Yediyurappa, who had to resign ingloriously as chief minister of Karnataka in the wake of the Lok Ayukta report on the illegal mining scam, has been sent to spend the weekend in jail in the “denotification scam”.
And this, a day after the BJP government in the State sought to rescue the corrupt by punching holes in the Lok Ayukta report.
With Yediyurappa joining a long and impressive line of ministerial colleagues—Janardhana Reddy, Katta Subramanya Naidu, Ramachandre Gowda, Hartaalu Halappa, S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty, M.P. Renukacharya et al—in the hall of shame, his boastful promise of returning to occupy the CM’s gaddi “within six months” is now clearly a very hollow one.
More importantly, images of Yediyurappa’s arrest and incarceration are likely to alter the BJP’s relationship with him inexorably. On camera, for now, party leaders are standing by him “legally”, with the state party chief, K.S. Eshwarappa, who fell at his feet in public as recently as two days ago, calling Yediyurappa’s arrest a “bad day“.
But, clearly for the BJP, which has been riding a high horse of self-righteouness in the wake of the scams and scandals dogging the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre, Yediyurappa is now damaged goods. He may still be a viable political force in the State, a potent Lingayat leader, but any further defence of him will only be exploited by the opposition across the nation.
As it is, the brazen corruption, casteism and nepotism under Yediyurappa’s watch, and his open defiance of the party high command in the run-up to his resignation, have punched huge ethical and moral holes in the BJP’s “gateway to the south”.
After Saturday’s ignominy, the questions are simple: will Yediyurappa stick to the BJP, or will he quit the party in time for the next election? On the other hand, will the BJP stand by Yediyurappa in his hour of trial, or will it ditch him? And either way, will the electorate still back Yediyurappa next time round?