Snap! When fish in lotus pond turns into a croc on the hunt

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“A little rebellion now and then, may be a good thing and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical…”

Now, there’s no knowing whether Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa has been reading Thomas Jefferson. But there’s little doubt that this is now a full-blown rebellion. BSY has drawn a line in the sand. This is it. Not another step. Thus far. No further; he will not walk down the same road, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with the party patriarchs who have, in his eyes treated him shabbily.

But ooh! The double whammy! The embarrassment in Bengaluru was one thing. But couple that with the red faces in Surjakund! Lal Krishna Advani, right there on the podium, saying the BJP wasn’t ready to take on the Congress as it had its own issues of corruption to deal with — read, the hapless Yeddyurappa — while sitting alongside the two men poised to inherit his non-secular mantle —national party president and RSS favourite, Nitin Gadkari, willy-nilly, endorsed for a second term, Advani or no Advani, and the unstoppable Narendra Modi, yes, yes, again, Advani or no Advani, whose win in home state Gujarat will set in motion the long overdue generational change that will refashion power equations in the party, once and for all.

Yeddyurappa’s fulminations in Bengaluru have, no doubt one eye on developments in Gujarat this coming December. A Modi win will marginalize an already weakened old man given to apopleptic outbursts that serve little purpose except to create a momentary embarrassment. Where that leaves his protégé, Sushma Swaraj, whom, you may have noticed chose the hospital route to stay away from the national executive, is to be seen.

BSY’s own hospital cover didn’t last long. His searing anger at the proximity of his arch enemy Ananth Kumar to Advani at the executive he had to stay away from for the first time in 40 years, put paid to any plans to play the silent, long-suffering victim.

And if anyone had any doubts that Yeddyurappa was on the road to ‘splitsville’ — given his penchant for obfuscation — the one throwaway remark where he tells the state president K.S. Eshwarppa what he can do with the B forms — stuff it, no-one will be lining up for them - really says it all.

Clearly. BSY is no longer with the BJP. He may be a card carrying member of the saffron brigade. But that’s in name only. They don’t want him. And he doesn’t need them either.

He’s drawn the sword of rebellion, thrown away the sheath. All that’s left is for the pennant and the charge. And whether the flag is borrowed from the Janata Party of Subramaniam Swamy’s farmer with the plough, or not, whether the party will be named the Karnataka Janata Party or some other acronym that will be as close to the BJP as possible, and whether his men will follow where he leads, is mere detail.

It’s now no longer a matter of if, but when. He has everything in place. Yeddyurappa’s camp sees him as the proverbial worm, who has turned against the BJP foot that has crushed him. So there it is. BSY has it already — the tag of martyr that won him his first term in office in 2008 where the ‘gaddar’ was H.D. Kumaraswamy. This time its the BJP, Mr Advani, Ananth Kumar. Take your pick.

Fact is, BSY no longer needs the BJP to expel him from the party; which, should have been what any right-thinking party should have done after the barrage of insults he sent the BJP’s way. It’s an open secret that ratcheting up the attack quotient against the parent party was BSY’s open, unsubtle invitation to an expulsion. But the BJP — and the RSS — wanted to deny him just such a plank.

His detractors’ next move may be to try and isolate him from his core group. Invitations for a one on one, with the ostensible reason being to try and gauge the mood of the rank and file and explore the possibility of ‘a compromise’ is already underway.

If it’s a compromise they wanted, it would have been in place, a good year and two months ago, when he was asked to step down as chief minister, allowed to pick his successor (twice) and told — so he claims — that the state party chief’s job was his. Leaving him with neither, expecting him to become a paterfamilias, was not BSY’s thing at all. This is a man who sleeps less than four hours a day. If that. A politician’s politician. If only the BJP had given him something to cling on to…

Will the move to isolate BSY work? So far, his core group has stayed by his side, shown no signs of abandoning him half-way. The BJP may not have quite understood that the very fact that he drew so many ‘outsiders’ — former Congressmen and JD(S) — to his side, works largely to his benefit. And to the BJP’s disadvantage. Those with an allegiance to the RSS — barring a handful — would be unlikely to nail their fortunes to his mast in the first place. As ‘outsiders,’ the Basavaraj Bommais of this world have nowhere else to go.

But then again, the opposite is also true. Power attracts. Once out of power, there is a huge question mark over whether the group which flutters around BSY now, will stay or flit away to the new man with cash to spare in Race Course road.

But it’s the Lingayat factor that is, more than ever, key in this state. The BSY camp firmly believes that without their Lingayat mascot who holds the northern swathe in his muthi, there will be no winning the elections for any one of them.

BSY’s own strategy is in full play. He knows the RSS is unable to see beyond the embarrassment he’s caused to them. But makes the point, that if Advani can shower the Tamil Nadu chief minister with posies, and look beyond the aspersions cast on their new mascot Gadkari, by India against Corruption, why have they hung him out to dry. Simply put, he can no longer rely on the RSS for the grass-roots mobilization that the BJP relies on to bring voters to the booths. He must look to himself and his group.

Second, he cannot allow the RSS or the party to hold him responsible if the BJP does collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. The fall of the Jagadish Shettar government is all but inevitable. But, Shettar, being BSY’s Lingayat pick for chief minister, any move to withdraw his ministers and precipitate the fall of the Shettar dispensation will be used to tom-tom his perfidy against his own community. Look, how picking Sadananda Gowda, a Vokkaliga instead of a Lingayat, as the interim stopgap chief minister blew up in his face.

Third, he must tread warily so that he is not tagged a closet Congressman. The praise for Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi is a signal that his outreach to the Congress is underway, hence the secret meeting with Congress’ C.M. Ibrahim where he was encouraged to make a clean break before they could do business. But it’s hard to see an outright alliance. Whether the BJP, survives BSY’s exit, or the JD(S), holds its own under a still wily but ageing leader or not, its what BSY finally does that will determine the results. Will he work with the Congress or put up candidates who limit the Congress to the 90-100 mark, confident he can win anywhere between 30-60 seats, be kingmaker, but outside a non-BJP government.

Therefore, while the answer to the key question of when Yeddyurappa launches his independent strike may have something to do with Ahmedabad, whether its December or February is not the point. The important thing is, BSY is already, halfway to pulling the plug on his past.

If. When. Does it really matter?

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