Senior BJP leader and former deputy prime minister L K Advani is no fan of B S Yeddyurappa. So much so that in his blog analysing the Karnataka results, he even does away with the nicety of referring to his former colleague by his proper name, reducing Yeddyurappa to 'Yeddi'. You can read his full blogpost here.
Advani takes on journalists who have blamed his jugalbandi with Ananth Kumar for showing the door to Yeddyurappa and thereby losing its gateway to south India. He offers a meek defence, taking refuge in the technicality that it was Yeddyurappa who "broke away from the BJP and decided to form a factional party of his own, the KJP". He blames his partymen for delaying action against the former chief minister even when it was apparent that he "was unabashedly indulging in corruption". He expresses his disapproval of the "frantic efforts" that went on for several months to placate Yeddyurappa, by "condoning his peccadilloes". Calling the party's handling of Karnataka "absolutely opportunistic", Advani says the BJP's "response to the Karnataka crisis was not at all a minor indiscretion."
L K Advani is clearly trying to take the moral high ground on Karnataka, suggesting that it is better to lose a government than to compromise on principles of honesty. Fair enough and for that he deserves to be complimented and respected. But then if you rewind to 2008, you will realise this Advani blog is nothing but an attempt to gain personal mileage out of a political tragedy for the party.
Where was Mr Advani when 'Operation Kamala' was launched in 2008, with the blessings of the party high command, to lure independent and opposition MLAs to cross over to the BJP? Surely they were not changing political colours for charity. The BJP had fallen short of a simple majority (110 BJP MLAs in a House of 224, where the half way mark was 112) and needed to shore up its numbers. Gali Somasekhara Reddy, the second of the Bellary brothers, says it in so many words that if it was not for Gali Janardhana Reddy's financial muscle, the lotus would have never bloomed in Karnataka. Did you, Mr Advani, not know that tainted Reddy money was a factor in securing legitimacy for the BJP government in Bangalore? Did you protest then? If not, why?
Which is why I say L K Advani's blog reeks of hypocrisy. The same party turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of the Reddy brothers because it needed their money. What's more, it even made two of the brothers — Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy — ministers in the Karnataka government. How is it that Reddy corruption was okay for Mr Advani and Yeddyurappa's corruption was not. A party with a difference surely does not mean different yardsticks for different sorts of corruption.
Yes, just like you dumped Yeddyurappa, forcing him to quit the chief minister's post, you also cold-shouldered Janardhana Reddy, once he was arrested in the illegal mining case and lodged in Hyderabad central prison. Your esteemed colleague Sushma Swaraj who was once a regular visitor to the Reddy household in Bellary and was seen as their political godmother in Delhi, withdrew her blessings the moment Janardhana Reddy became an undertrial. Yes, for the kind of loot they indulged in in Bellary, they deserved it and more. But you and your party are equally guilty of a use and throw policy. If their shirts are dirty, some of the dirt is sticking on to your kurta as well, Advaniji.
But I agree with Mr Advani that expectations from the BJP were high in Karnataka. The people elected your candidates with fond hopes in 2008. If the BJP has lost the election this time, it is not only because of a Yeddyurappa. It is also because you opened your innings in Bangalore by fixing the match. It is also because the BJP failed to provide a government that works efficiently. It is also because the people of Karnataka had enough of infighting within the BJP, resort politics and political instability. It is because the Karnataka BJP failed to provide a developmental narrative that the party's governments in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have.
The BJP failed abysmally in political management, unable to handle a temperamental and powerful regional satrap like Yeddyurappa with tact. He had become so much of a bully that he seriously believed the BJP minus Yeddyurappa was a zero. Allowing Ananth Kumar to play behind-the-scenes politics against him was like showing Yeddyurappa a red rag and the BJP in Delhi could not stop a loyal partyman from turning renegade. No surprise that Yeddyurappa turned into a fidayeen and destroyed both himself and the BJP in the Karnataka elections.
The strong words that Mr Advani uses in his blog for Yeddyurappa, I suspect, are part of a strategy to ensure the whispers within the BJP to get Yeddyurappa back into the fold after the crushing defeat, do not gain volume and do not become a loud chorus.
Mr Advani, in his blog, surmises that what went against the BJP in Karnataka, will also go against the Congress at the national level. Quite possible. Because the Congress is making pretty much the same mistakes the BJP made in Karnataka.
We need more Advanis who articulate the need to have zero tolerance to corruption. My only prayer is it should be timely and with consistency, without which it is impossible to impress the umpires (the people in this case) in the Indian Political League.