It will seek to bridge the trust deficit between him and Sadananda Gowda

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership through deft management has for the time being succeeded in persuading B.S. Yeddyurappa, the party strongman and former Chief Minister of Karnataka, to an understanding. However, the party leaders are not sure how long the truce would last.

With the recent direction of the Supreme Court to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the charges of illegal mining cases against him, there is no way the BJP leadership could give in to the demand of Mr. Yeddyurappa for his re-instatement as Chief Minister.

According to party sources, the best the leadership could do is help bridge the ‘trust deficit' between Mr. Yeddyurappa and Karnataka Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda and ask Mr. Gowda to induct more loyalists of the former Chief Minister into his Ministry.

In the assessment of the central leadership, Mr. Yeddyurappa's options are limited unless he wants to precipitate a crisis and force a snap poll. But it would be big gamble for him as the CBI is gearing up to begin the investigation and the Congress making it abundantly clear that it would have no truck with the Lingayat leader.

The BJP leaders swung into action after Mr. Yeddyurappa's close associate Shobha Karandlaje, his emissary and MLC Lehar Singh and some MPs close to the former Chief Minister met BJP leader Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan with a message from the former Chief Minister

Jaitley's call

They told the leaders that unless immediate steps were taken, the party in the State would be plunged into a deep crisis. Mr. Jaitley reportedly called up Mr. Yeddyurappa and asked him to give up his threat of quitting from the Assembly along with his supporters. He prevailed on Mr. Yeddyurappa not to act in haste and promised to discuss his grievances with the central leadership. The BJP leadership is worried about the state of affairs in Karnataka as Assembly elections are due in the State next year.

The Congress on its part distanced itself from Mr. Yeddyurappa after the latter praised president Sonia Gandhi, saying her party always supported those of its members who were in trouble.

“Whatever is happening in Karnataka is entirely the internal matter of the BJP,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, adding “They will stew in their own juice. The Congress or its party president does not require any certification.”

Internal dissension

Mr. Tewari was responding to a question on Mr. Yeddyurappa praising Ms. Gandhi at a function in Bangalore on Sunday. “As far as Karnataka is concerned, an atmosphere of internal dissension has been there since the formation of the BJP government,” he said, underscoring, “We definitely hope the people of Karnataka will remember all this when elections take place there.”

With speculation rampant of a Congress hand in Mr. Yeddyurappa's “revolt,” the party is keen to stay away from controversy. Reports that Shobha Karandlaje, a Minister in the Karnataka government and who belongs to the Yeddyurappa camp met Ms. Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel on Monday morning, were vehemently denied by the latter.

Meanwhile, the CBI has initiated the process of consultation for registering a case against the former Karnataka CM on the directions of the Supreme Court, for probing his alleged links to illegal mining in the State.

Sources in the agency said that a senior CBI official from Bangalore was in the capital for consultations with the top officials of the agency. Among other things, the CBI would have to decide if it wanted to register a case in Delhi or Bangalore, the sources said.

CBI gets 3 months

In an order last week, a Special Bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar directed the CBI to complete its investigation within three months. The judges also expressed anguish over the rampant illegal mining of iron ore under political patronage in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The recommendation for an investigation was made by the Central Empowered Committee, the Supreme Court-appointed panel which has been overseeing the clampdown on illegal mining.

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