New Delhi, Nov 8: BJP’s Karnataka crisis is over at least for the time being with chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and chief rebel Janardhana Reddy
offering each other cake at the residence of party veteran L K Advani who was celebrating his 82nd birthday.
The truce may have seemed like a birthday gift for Advani, but the cake could have tasted bitter for both Yeddyurappa and Reddy as its terms were not what either side really wanted. For the "Bellary brothers" - Janardhana and Karunakara - they have not been able to ensure changes in portfolios that will now be discussed by a coordination committee.
While the Reddys were keen to hold out for more, restiveness among their followers who feared an election if there was no deal and BJP high command’s tough message to Karnataka Speaker Jagadish Shettar to stop being a rallying point for rebels yielded results. Janardhana arrived in Delhi on Saturday night.
The Reddys did draw blood with Yeddyurappa having got rid of his principal secretary V P Baligar and the imminent ouster of the CM’s favourite minister Shobha Karandlaje. But no other minister is being dropped for now while Yeddyurappa has stood firm on not rescinding the transfers of officials from Bellary. Fresh postings will be made in consultation with the Reddys. Shettar is expected to be inducted into the ministry while any reshuffle will be discussed by the coordination panel.
The coordination committee will comprise the CM, Janardhana Reddy, state chief Sadanand Gowda, state leader S Satish and party organising secretary Santosh. The panel - a very similar arrangement to what Congress has set up to sort out factional pressures in Haryana - will certainly be seen as a dimunition of Yeddyurappa’s powers. It has sufficient RSS representation though there is no central leader on it.
The CM will have to put up with a pressure group on issues like appointments which were his preserve.
The peace deal arrived at deputy leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s residence on Sunday evening followed a slew of meetings involving Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu over the last three days. The deal may not be a lasting solution as BJP brass is all too aware of the enormous clout the Reddys, who are relative outsiders, have come to wield. Both sides can be expected to try and undercut one another with BJP working on MLAs who had fled to the rebel havens in Hyderabad.
BJP leaders are quite clear that Yeddyurappa has to be more mindful of MLAs and cannot take the plea that he was only being guided by the state’s interests. His abrasive style - which his supporters say is more a case of preoccupation - would have to give way to one that is more persuasive. The CM would be quite aware that his in-house rivals like senior leader Ananth Kumar now have added purchase.
BJP insiders claim that their gambit of consistently ruling out a change of CM worked in the end as it was clear to the rebels that there were not many alternatives with Congress not willing to play ball with the Reddys for a topple game.
The entire central leadership was engaged in firefighting over the last couple of weeks since Jaitley had been rushed to Bangalore. "I will go by the advice and decision of my party leader," Yeddyurappa said after the meeting at Advani’s residence. He has made relief for flood-hit areas his top priority.