It is a catch-22 situation for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the fast moving political developments in Karnataka after the former Chief Minister and rebel leader, B.S. Yeddyurappa, formed a new party and threw an open challenge to the BJP to seek a fresh mandate from the people.

The BJP central leadership could have ignored Mr. Yeddyurappa’s challenge as the outburst of a frustrated leader. But the presence of 14 MLAs at a rally to mark the launch of the rebel leader’s new political party is a matter of serious concern for the party.

The BJP can initiate disciplinary proceedings against the legislators only if it is prepared to sacrifice the government, as the State government at the moment is surviving at the mercy of Mr. Yeddyurappa and his supporters within the BJP. Indications here are that at the moment the party would not like to precipitate a situation which could pose a threat to the Jagadish Shettar government.

Though Mr. Shettar announced in Belgaum that the party’s central leaders would take a decision on December 12 on initiating action against the MLAs who defied the party, there was no confirmation here about such a meeting. Assembly elections in the State are due in May and the election process will begin in March. The central leadership has to weigh the pros and cons of taking on Mr. Yeddyurappa and his supporters before that.

If the BJP decides to go ahead with disciplinary action, the ball would be firmly in the court of the Governor, who would ask Mr. Shettar to demonstrate his government’s majority of the floor of the Assembly. If Mr. Shettar fails to do so, the Governor would recommend dissolution of the Assembly and announce fresh election.

The other scenario for the BJP central leadership is to advise Mr. Shettar to seek dissolution of the House and ask for a fresh mandate. If the government, which technically has the majority in the Assembly, recommends dissolution, the Governor is bound to accept the recommendation. If the House is dissolved on the government’s recommendation, the BJP would have the benefit of presiding over the caretaker administration.

It is against this backdrop that the BJP is weighing various options. “We are keeping an eye on the entire political developments in Karnataka. Leave it to the BJP to deal with the situation,” its chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

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