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Deepa Balakrishnan
Monday , May 28, 2012 at 18 : 52

Power Wars


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A regimen of disbelief

When you attend any event surrounding B S Yeddyurappa, you'd be surprised by the stubborn disbelief over the fact that he's no longer CM. Partly, it's perhaps the new sycophancy that's set in --- or been brought in - among his 'loyalists'.

Ask them the chief minister's home number, and they'll give you the number of Yeddyurappa's home.

When you talk of Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, they will tell you: So what if Gowda attracts a crowd in Bangalore. All the way from Tumkur (just out of Bangalore) to north Karnataka, the people only know one CM and that's Yeddyurappa.

It almost feels like Yeddyurappa refuses to believe he's an ex. He may no longer lord over the state but he can't stop hankering after the post - he considers it 'rightfully' his. Denied, he'll cry, threaten, throw tantrums and generally act like the kid whose pet toy has been taken away by force.

Though we have a different chief minister, Yeddyurappa has ensured he continues to be the primary newsmaker. I've heard politicians saying earlier that being in the news is important - no matter whether in good light or bad. As long as you make it to the headlines every week, you'll not be relegated to the has-beens.

When was the last time...?

When was the last time you heard Irrigation Minister Basavaraj Bommai talk about irrigation? Or for that matter Public Works Minister CM Udasi talk about public work? Excise Minister Renukacharya on excise? Nearly a year? Well, same here. I can barely recall when they last spoke about their portfolios. So busy with politicking are they. Every morning, you'll see them at "their leader" Yeddyurappa's residence before they come to their offices at Vidhana Souda.

A dip-test interview with Umesh Katti Agriculture Minister (another of the Yeddy coterie) goes like this : "Sir, we're doing a special report on drought, wanted your interview." "Drought is there madam, it's very big - in all taluks, drought is there."

"Sir what's the estimated crop loss? What about central aid, loan waivers?" "All that we've told central government all.. they have to give money. Drought is there."

Why do I even try?

BSY and his 40 men

Traditionally, it's the Congress that's seen splits whenever there's been a power struggle. The BJP always touted itself as a 'disciplined' party that won't tolerate rebellion.

But the party's first government in south India is giving the top-brass many sleepless nights (apart from the journalists who cover the party, that is).

There's of course the Yeddyurappa faction. Within this, there are those who don't mind resigning from their MLAship if Yeddyurappa does, and those who wouldn't resign but want to be identified with him. Most of these are 'Operation Kamala' migrants - those who migrated from other parties to the BJP under the Operation Kamala strategy of getting them to resign and getting re-elected on a BJP ticket to avoid anti-defection problems.

Then there's the Bellary group. With Sriramulu's exit and starting of a new party, other MLAs from that belt want to be identified with him while remaining in the party (for now).

Then there's the Jarkiholi-Asnotikar factions who claim they'll all resign if Yeddyurappa has his way and Sadananda Gowda is changed as CM.

Then there's the group that calls itself 'the original BJP people'. These are the ones who grew from RSS into the BJP, who still believe in the 'shistu' (discipline) of the old days and the old regime. This is also the group that's now crying foul over Yeddyurappa's ways of trying to rebel against the party almost every month.

Then there are some non-committals - people who're biding their time in the ruling party but will quit to join the JDS when the time comes.

This time, when Yeddyurappa and his 40 men threatened to resign en masse, it was once too much that Yeddyurappa cried 'tiger.' The next time around, he may not be taken so seriously.

So who's to gain? You'd think, the Congress. Unfortunately, it's also the party where everyone is a leader. It has no chief ministerial candidate. In the end, the JDS may become the biggest beneficiary - if it gets even 40 seats in the next election, it'd be king-maker.

Moral of the story: absolute power absolutely splits parties.

Houseful

When it comes to power wars, there's another smaller one on between two DGPs in Karnataka - AR Infant, the senior most DGP and currently DG & IG (basically, head of the police force) and Shankar Bidari, a DG-rank officer currently chairman of the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation. Bidari, while not the senior-most, was made DG and IGP last year with suspected political influence - an appointment later set aside by the courts. Unhappy, he went to the Supreme Court in appeal and won a halfway-favourable verdict when the apex court directed the high court to take a fresh look at the case.

While we were waiting for the Home Minister to react to the apex court's order, this is what a constable on security duty had to say: "So Bidari's got a favourable order? But he has a family full of IAS and IPS officers. Why does he still want power?" (Bidari's son, daughter, son-in-law and daughter-in-law are all either in the IAS or IPS).

Think it over.


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