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Trouble brewing for the BJP in south India

As B S Yediyurappa, 78, Chief Minister (CM) of Karnataka fights the COVID-19 pandemic, his detractors in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are making a final push to remove him from office. The attack is led by a powerful BJP functionary, who has zero mass appeal but wants to replace Yediyurappa.

An irate Yediyurappa, who has a very short fuse, sent his son B V Vijayendra, Vice President of BJP Karnataka, to New Delhi to meet the central BJP and give them a message: Yediyurappa will not resign.

Authoritative sources told Gulf News that Vijayendra spent three days in Delhi and managed to meet BJP president J P Nadda. A group of Yediyurappa detractor Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), who were already in Delhi and briefing the high command against Yediyurappa, were upset that Nadda met him.

Considering that Nadda is a notional president of the BJP, with the actual power residing with Amit Shah,  Yediyurappa detractors reaction was considered over the top.

Wary of making political moves

Post-West Bengal election drubbing and the mismanagement of the second vicious wave of COVID-19, the central BJP is wary of making political moves against incumbent CMs like Yediyurappa and Yogi Adityanath — who still command a political capital.

Sources close to Yediyurappa say that he is fed up of the constant battle of attrition waged by the ambitious BJP functionary against his government.

The Karnataka CM has made it clear that if he was disturbed in any manner, he would walk out of the BJP and form a regional outfit. This is not an empty threat as Yediyurappa had once rebelled against the BJP and quit and formed his own outfit.

Conscious of his stature as the only mass leader the BJP has in the South, Yediyurappa has also defied the unofficial retirement age of 75 in the BJP, foisted on by Modi and Shah, which has seen top leaders sent to the so called “Margdarshak mandal”.

The daily tantrums, circulation of alleged sex CDs and leaked conversations between those in the Yediyurappa camp and those who oppose him, has affected governance in Karnataka.

The biggest takeaway from the encouragement given by the BJP high command to dissidence against Yediyurappa is that the Centre would prefer if Yediyurappa was a rubber stamp CM like M L Khattar in Haryana and Devendra Fadnavis earlier in Maharashtra.

Yediyurappa, Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh CM) and Vasundhara Raje Scindia (former Rajasthan CM) have been old school BJP mass leaders (from an earlier fiercely democratic BJP culture) who have little appetite for interference from the BJP high command.

No pushover player 

Consider how they have been cut to size by the BJP 2.0. Chauhan is increasingly desperate and is trying to mould himself on the Yogi model of intemperate statements in a complete departure from his earlier moderate image. Scindia is out in the cold as Modi and Shah resolutely ignore her and Yediyurappa is under a constant attack.

A source close to Yediyurappa says, “Modi and Shah should stop treating mass leaders in the BJP as they treat the opposition. Mass leaders will follow the Modi model and not brook any interference from the central BJP. Modi never listened to the central BJP as Gujarat CM. Why should we?”.

Yediyurappa wants to retire on his on terms and ensure that this five children, including Vijayendra, who are all dabbling in politics have political profiles.

This is anathema to the new BJP as the logic of political dynasties fly in the face of their personal attack on the Gandhi family and Congress, India's principal opposition party.

Yediyurappa is a 24/7 politician and wants to be CM for life, says a central BJP leader with a laugh.

Confrontation with the central BJP is inevitable and is now happening on a daily basis.

Will the Sangh-turned-BJP functionary succeed in his mission of ousting Yediyurappa and replacing him? A prediction: Yediyurappa will be no pushover and will cause the BJP high command considerable heartburn.