Will Narendra Modi glue hold together chalk and cheese?

Friday, 10 January 2014 - 1:52pm IST | Agency: DNA

The love and hate relationship between the duo comprising the state BJP’s most recognisable faces, BS Yeddyurappa and Ananthkumar has determined the political fortunes of the party, and though they seem to have reconciled after an estrangement, all is not well between them, and lack of comfort between them could cost the party in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

When the former chief minister and the party’s national general secretary  were close pals, the fledgling party was catapulted to power through its maiden win in the 2008 assembly elections on its own strength. This was quite historical in the sense that the party, could cross the Vindhyas moved south to hoist the saffron flag in a major southern state. And was poised for a longer political innings, with its principal political rival Congress remaining in a moribund state.

When the one time comrades in arm, became inveterate political rivals and parallel centres of power in BJP, the party’s political decline started, with the loss of power in 2013. 

The BJP government proved to be a great disappointment to the voters. It failed to govern, its ministers and legislators busy amassing money, with several ministers led by Yeddyurappa after having been inducted in illegal mining and land denotification scams.

The then helmsman, Yeddyurappa,  who was forced to demit office following his indictment by Lokayukta, left the party in a huff to launch his own political outfit. It was this single move, which contributed to the defeat of the party.

In the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, the BJP is not sure whether it can repeat its 2009 performance of winning 19 seats out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka.

Yeddyurappa and Ananth Kumar are like chalk and cheese.While Yeddyurappa’s was a direct entry into the party unlike Ananth Kumar, who came via the RSS and ABVP. A mass orator prone to through tantrums, Yeddyurappa is a tireless and indefatigable worker. He is impulsive, short-tempered and vindictive.

Ananth Kumar is more a backroom operator, and seen by many as extremely ambitious. His main advantage over Yeddyurappa is his communication skills. With knowledge of Hindi and English, which Yeddyurappa totally lacked, Ananth Kumar has been able to establish closer rapport with the national leadership of the party. An Advani-acolyte, Ananth Kumar had no compunction in jumping on the Modi bandwagon.

The two complemented each other well during the days of BJP’s quest for political prominence in Karnataka. They led successful joint campaigns which brought good political dividends for the party. The Idgah campaign in Hubli launched by them caught the national attention, and helped in expanding its political base in north Karnataka. Together, they mercilessly hounded out those who disagreed with them, unmindful of the contribution made by them.

As the party inched its way to power, signs of strain in their relationship began surfacing over the question of sharing of the political spoils. The national leadership tried to resolve the tangle over the leadership issue in Karnataka by asking Ananthkumar to remain in national politics leaving the affairs of the state to Yeddyurappa. But the mutual sparring and backbiting only worsened.

Ananthkumar was reportedly behind the open campaign led by mining baron Janaradan Reddy against Yeddyurappa. The latter’s decision to leave the party and launch his own outfit was his own, though many within the party blame Ananthkumar of having created conditions forcing the latter to take the crucial step.

But the voting pattern in May 2013 election held out a categorical message, to the BJP and its two splinter groups, that unless they come together, their common objective of making Modi the prime minister was doomed. While Yeddyurappa has given up his tantrums over suitable position for himself and his supporters in BJP, Ananthkumar has hinted at the return of the “friends” who had left BJP. The factions may come together, but it is anybody’s guess as how durable homecoming would be, knowing the penchant of the twosome for unbridled power.

Madan Mohan
Senior political commentator


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