VS Acharya, Karnataka`s higher education minister, tells Gyan Varma what Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa will have to do to retain the chief ministership
What are the challenges before Yeddyurappa after the recent crisis in Karnataka? In my opinion, the single-biggest challenge after the crisis is that he will have to carry everyone together and take into consideration every opinion. The second-biggest challenge before the government is to maintain its wafer-thin majority. The chief minister has to keep all MLAs together and make them work as a team. There are several allegations against the government and the chief minister and so there should be a concerted effort not only to limit these allegations but also to counter them by providing all facts and details to the party and to the people of the state. If Yeddyurappa is able to do these things, I think these allegations will die down.
The state government is doing a good job in terms of administration and governance and so the challenge before the chief minister is to continue the development work while simultaneously countering the political allegations.
How do you see Yeddyurappa as a person? Yeddyurappa is a leader of the masses, very approachable. His biggest quality as a leader is that he is determined and hard working.
This was the fourth time the Karnataka chief minister was under a scanner. Why is Yeddyurappa facing turbulence repeatedly? There are a lot of factors that caused these problems for the state government. The biggest reason is the antics of former prime minister Deve Gowda, his son HD Kumaraswamy and his other sons. This is the first time that BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is in power in the state and these people have a record of harassing anyone who is in power in the state. They cannot tolerate anybody else coming to power in a state that they have ruled for so long.
The other reason is the Congress, which is creating problems through SM Krishna. Krishna is the present foreign minister and former chief minister. The Congress is helping Krishna and its other leaders in creating problems for Yeddyurappa, as they fear his popularity. The rule of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress was unchallenged till now, but not there is someone in the state who is very popular, which these people cannot tolerate.
Is the decision to continue with Yeddyurappa final or will his tenure be reviewed after the panchayat and taluk elections that are scheduled to take place in the coming four weeks? I think the decision of the party high command to continue with Yeddyurappa will be reviewed from time to time. The leadership has permitted him to continue for now because he has the majority. The panchayat and taluk elections are expected in the next few days and nobody wanted to change the leadership just before the elections. In my opinion, since Yeddyurappa has been asked to stay for now, he will continue for the remaining term as well.
BJP claims it`s a party with a difference but it didn`t act against Yeddyurappa after the land scam allegation came to light. Why is it following double standards? It`s wrong to say that the BJP leadership in Karnataka and Delhi didn`t act. Action has been taken by the chief minister. He has ordered a judicial probe into all land allotments since 1995. His family members have also returned the land. It is best to wait for the judicial probe to finish and then expect any action. The decision to announce the probe was prompt.
How real was the threat that the government could have fallen if Yeddyurappa was removed from the chief minister`s post? The threat to the Karnataka government was real because BS Yeddyurappa is a popular leader both among the people and also with the MLAs. Most party MLAs continue to rally around him. He is control of 90-95 per cent of the MLAs. If the central leadership had decided to replace Yeddyurappa, the MLAs would not have liked it. The government was under threat.
During the meetings in Delhi, we managed to convey the feelings of the MLAs to the central leadership. There were certain allegations against him and he was called to Delhi to clarify his stand. He gave his impression of the developments and after considering the pros and cons of the situation, the central leadership decided to continue with him.
Earlier, BJP didn`t act against the Reddy brothers and now very little action has been taken against Yeddyurappa. Is BJP doing a balancing act in the state? There is no comparison. This is not a balancing act by the central leadership. The allegations against Yeddyurappa were made by a section of political leaders in Karnataka and they are being investigated. It is not correct to say that the central leadership is doing a balancing act.
How do you think Yeddyurappa will deal with the factions in the central leadership which are unhappy with his tenure? There is only one national executive and one core group in BJP. All the leaders sit together and take decisions. The decision has been taken that Yeddyurappa will remain the chief minister. We are in touch with party President Ntitin Gadkari and other leaders at the Centre.