The detractors and critics of Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and his ??Operation Kamal?? as it has come to be labelled , can as well take a second look of pragmatism and see the other side of the murky quirks of the degenerating political culture and parliamentary career of the country which put a premium on manipulative practices in statecraft however undesirable.
Politics of destabilisation and politics of survival are twins inseparable. Having regard to the tricky and intriguing position he faces as the first BJP Chief Minister of his home State, one is tempted to take a charitable interpretation of the steps he took in the formation of his ministry and in protecting the safety of his three-month-old fledgling Government. Apparently, his bid was a bold one at taking the vexed Kannada land back to a single party dispensation built on the ashes of two previous coalition regimes which are acknowledged to have turned out to be disastrous.
Imagine the plight of a party and its leaders when they are faced with a situation of winning 110 seats in the 224-member State Assembly, falling short of three seats for an absolute majority which however, does not detract from the popular verdict in its favour. Yeddyurappa managed it instantly by inviting the bunch of five Independents and paid the unavoidable price of giving them berths in his Cabinet. None can deny him that legitimate freedom of action. Partymen ask why Yeddyurappa should become a martyr on the altar of Puritanism to which Indian politics is a stranger.
It was tight-rope walking and a palpable hazard proving his majority in the Assembly. He won it beyond any shadow of doubt. But that was the first hurdle to cross, though comforting ignition.
In Indian political and parliamentary life, keeping the stability of an elected government in the post-election period is known to be more difficult than winning elections. Adversarial rivalries and politics have perfected the institution of sabotage and toppling tactics; a syndrome the country is witnessing too often reducing the institution of elections to a costly joke. Decency and fairly and clean public life were the first and direct casually of the Congress split of 1969, classic struggle for power and pelf.
The razor edge majority of Yeddyurappa'sgovernment provided no guarantee of safety. There was the Damocle'ssword hanging on it all the time. The Chief Minister'sarch rivals, the Congress and Deve Gowda'sJanata Dal (S), un-reconciled to the kind of electoral drubbing they received, were waiting in the wings to settle scores. Any delay on the part of Yeddyurappa in consolidating his position would, obviously, have proved fatal. Toppling his government by combined action on the steam of near equal numerical strength of the Congress and the Kumaraswamy'sJanata Dal (S) was a distinct possibility.
By moving fast, the Chief Minister pre-empted any such move reflected in the resignation of a bunch of a mixture of half a dozen MLAs belonging to both the Congress and the Janata Dal (S).
What the move did was to reduce the strength of the combined opposition. Concurrently, the cut-off level for absolute majority in the Assembly was reduced from II3, thereby bolstering the Government majority proportionately. Technically, therefore, there was no question of violating the anti-defection law and there was also no question of defection on the part of the MLAs who had quit their seats. It was a reverse gear operation in smartness.
It is also to be noted that the MLAs who have quit have taken a big risk. There is no guarantee that they would be re-elected. There is an element of political morality in their resignation of seats. Other things being equal, Yeddyurappa can bask in the sunshine of his post-electoral gains over the next six months which will be the permitted interval before the next Assembly session, at any rate. He has already won a vote of confidence.
Apparently, the other option for Yeddyurappa was forming government proving his majority and then recommending the dissolution of the Assembly before another poll, a far-fetched idea as a solution to the tricky verdict of 2008 poll. In a way, it would have been a travesty of the verdict, a near- absolute majority and a virtual unqualified mandate. Presaging an element of electorate forgiveness.
Those who pontificate on the ?sins? committed by Yeddyurappa would do well, for a time, to give themselves the benefit of a flash-back of the post-2004 Assembly election scenario that emerged in the State. The two traducers of the BJP, namely, the Congress and the Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (S), had licked dust while the BJP emerged as the single largest party favoured by the electorate, although none of the three parties could get an absolute majority.
The BJP, as it transpired, was thrown overboard when it was a question of the formation of a government to succeed the Congress Government of S.M. Krishna. A veritable ?unholy? alliance between the Congress and the Janata Dal(S)?regretfully the maiden one the State had the misfortune of suffering?hijacked the administration. Imagine a party which had been drubbed and punished by the people, the Congress, heading the government?a mockery of democratic elections and the verdict of the people. It was a classic case of sabotage of parliamentary democracy which was meekly swallowed by the people, not excluding the doughty champions of political morality and ethics.
The second and successor coalition government formed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal(S) in which Kumaraswamy was Chief Minister and Yeddyurappa Deputy Chief Minister, made some amends in favour of the BJP. Memories of its fall at the altar of what has come to be branded as the ?great betrayal? of all times are still lingering in the minds of the people. Kumaraswamy had no compunction in brazenly and in broad daylight violating the solemn covenant, publicly pledged, that he would turn over the stewardship of his government to the BJP and its boss, Yeddyurappa, Again, as if to compound this crass conduct, Kumaraswamy and his father put up the pretence of atonement and allowed Yeddyurappa to form the BJP-led Government. This ?remorse? hardly lasted a week as the father and son duo pulled the rug from under the feet of Yeddyurappa who came to acquire the sobriquet?Ek din ka sultan, the victim of one of history'sworst cases of treachery, as critics saw it. The Janata Dal (S) inspired and cared coup could put to shame the royal court plots and conspiracies reminiscent of the medieval times of Indian History. It may not be incorrect to infer that the verdict of the 2008 elections was a sign of electorate'sdisgust of the outrage of the traditional Indian value system.
Leading his party to victory and forming the first BJP government in the South and making the party'selectoral and geographical reach expand vastly, Yeddyurappa has proved his mettle as a no mean achievements braving the influential and hostile ?secularist? camp and its well-oiled propaganda machinery geared all the time to paint it as communal. Then there was his grit and doggedness and determination to win the coveted post of Chief Minister by leading his party to a spectacular finish on the 2008 Assembly election. His two popular budgets as Finance Minister in the BJP-JD(S) coalition stood his party in good stead.
It will be no exaggeration or misplaced faith if Yeddyurappa could be conferred the sobriquet, a saint in the midst of the hordes of career politicians of doubtful integrity dotting what is called a national sham and scandal of the 21st century, namely, the shady ways allegedly resorted to by the ambitious leaders of the ruling UPA camp, not excluding the Prime Minister, to ?win? a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.
As a finishing touch to the tainted vote of confidence and its celebration comes the liquidation of the duly established State Government of Jharkhand and the installation of another government headed by the JMM MP and leader of that party in the manner of a blatant and strident quid pro quo, for bailing out the Manmohan Singh'stottering government.
The father and son duo had the temerity to demand that Yeddyurappa should submit an affidavit of commitment to ?secularism? and that kind of phony shibboleth as a precondition of renewed truck for Yeddyurappa's take-over! Their these and other kindred pranks ultimately drove the State to the imposition of a long spell of much-hated President's rule. The Governor himself was in the dock, often.
Yeddyurappa as was evident was simply not the type of politician who could take a calculated demolition of his credentials lying low. It is a different story that he fought back and promptly ?fixed? his detractors in the electoral battle which is also a landmark in the political history of the State. It was an eloquent story of a wronged man vindicating himself in the manner of a hero he actually turned out to be in tandem with the hero of Gujarat who gave sleepless nights to Sonia Gandhi and her entourage. The two of them have left the crusaders of ?secularism? badly mauled.
One can guess that Yeddyurappa'sexercises are not only intended for digging deeper into the longevity of his power structure but also as sinews of the party'spreparedness for the ensuing Lok Sabha poll. The stakes are high for the party as it acquires one more important State into its kitty which helps it maximise its gains in the Lok Sabha in the quest for returning to power at the Centre. This would apparently be a prime part of the party'svision when its National Council meets, by design and choice, in Bangalore, in September.