There seems no end to the Karnataka crisis for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Rather, after the failure of party general secretary Ashok Pradhan’s mediation efforts on Sunday, it is threatening to spiral out of control. Mounting further pressure on a hapless central leadership, rebel B S Yeddyurappa’s faction on Sunday set July 5 as the deadline for making its nominee, Jagadish Shettar, the state’s chief minister in place of present incumbent D V Sadananda Gowda. It organised a meeting in Shettar’s house to demonstrate its strength and claimed support of 55 MLAs, 15 MLCs and eight MPs. They have also issued a veiled threat that in case the party high command doesn’t respond positively to their demands, they might defy the leadership’s decision to support P A Sangma in the presidential elections.
Complicating the situation, municipal administration minister Balachandra Jarkiholi has threatened to resign with his 15 MLAs if the high command accedes to the Yeddyurappa camp’s demand. “You need 113 MLAs to form a government in Karnataka, but a mere 13 can bring it down,” he is reported to have ominously said. Clearly the party leadership finds itself in a no-win situation. Factionalism and infighting is bound to intensify whichever way the leadership tilts.
The BJP national leaders have themselves to blame for the current state of affairs. They allowed greedy state leaders to betray the people’s mandate for the BJP without addressing the trouble at its initial stages and in the process lost grip on the situation. It is time they decided to take the bull by the horns. They should bluntly tell the state’s feuding leaders that if they cannot stay together and provide good governance, the party is ready to seek fresh elections. Sticking to power without being able to deliver will be counter-productive to the party and the time for patchwork solutions or buying time is over. The leadership should not succumb to political blackmail and ensure that there is no compromise on the party’s ideological clarity and organisational discipline.