Scams and legal issues haunting party in the State

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has been given the extraordinary charge of cleaning up the BJP mess in Karnataka.

The announcement was made on behalf of BJP president Nitin Gadkari here on Saturday. Shanta Kumar, who was in charge of the party's political affairs in the State, has been moved as prabhari of Punjab.

Although, on the face of it, Dharmendra Pradhan has been given the designation of person in-charge of Karnataka affairs, this is perhaps the first time a senior leader has been appointed a virtual super prabhari. A statement said: “Mr. Jaitley has been asked to devote special attention to the party's Karnataka affairs.”

Court notice

Party sources indicated that a senior leader was needed to look after political affairs in the State, where a number of important issues have come up and more are likely to surface.

The Supreme Court on November 30 served notices on Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and Speaker K.G. Bopaiah, on a special leave petition filed by seven BJP MLAs, who are seeking reversal of the Karnataka High Court order which upheld their disqualification ahead of a crucial confidence vote two months ago.

They have been given time till December 7 to respond and a hearing has been fixed for December 9.

Wafer-thin majority

The party expects Mr. Jaitley to pay attention to this problem — the government's survival could depend on the outcome in the court as the Yeddyurappa government has only a wafer-thin majority.

Also, the State is racked by a plethora of corruption scandals involving the Chief Minister as well as several colleagues.

After all, Mr. Yeddyurappa was able to save his job only by promising the BJP leadership a clean-up.

Party sources indicated that Mr. Jaitley has the authority — as well as legal acumen — to ensure that steps are taken for the government to keep its head above water.

This is an urgent issue as Lokayukta Santosh Hegde has come down heavily on the government for not taking action against illegal mining — in which the Reddy brothers of Bellary are allegedly involved — and scams arising from allotment of plots of land to the Chief Minister's relatives as well as to those close to some other Ministers.