That B.S. Yeddyurappa agreed to step down as Chief Minister of Karnataka after a succession of scams and controversies is not on account of some sudden, inexplicable change of heart or personality. What brought this about is the rapid change in the national public mood — from helpless resignation in the face of corruption in high places to active opposition to all forms of political corruption. A string of scams, starting with the biggest of them all, the 2G spectrum allocation scandal, triggered the process of change. The involvement of charismatic sections of civil society in the campaign for an effective Lokpal Bill also captured the public imagination. The principal national opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, sleepwalked its way into the thick of the action against corruption in the United Progressive Alliance government. Now, as one of the lead campaigners, the party seems to have realised that it cannot afford to lose the plot in this national revolt against sleaze and fraud. Mr. Yeddyurappa, at the head of its government in Karnataka, was the antithesis of everything the BJP spoke up for: accountability, transparency, and good governance. Once the Lokayukta submitted its report indicting Mr. Yeddyurappa and some of his Ministers in the illegal mining scam, the party was left with no choice.
Although Mr. Yeddyurappa has agreed to resign, terms and conditions apply. He not only wants his nominee, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, to succeed him but is also asking to be nominated the president of the BJP State unit. Along with the Reddy brothers, who are at the centre of the mining operations, he claims the support of a majority of the BJP MLAs. Together, they seem determined to thwart the formation of any government that is inclined to act on the Lokayukta report. Understandably, the BJP would want to save its first and only government in south India. But to give in to the key demands of Mr. Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers will be to nullify any good that might come of the change at the helm. The Lokayukta report gives a detailed account of the illegal mining in Bellary, the fiefdom of the Reddy brothers, which is described as the ‘Republic of Bellary.' The report specifically recommends the removal of one of the Reddy brothers, Janardhan Reddy, from the Cabinet in view of his “misconduct.” The BJP's national leadership, a section of which is clearly in nexus with the mining lobby, will need to facilitate the formation of a government that will be able to act on the Lokayukta recommendations. Providing protection and political rehabilitation for Mr. Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers might prolong the BJP's hold on power for some more time, but it would have adverse consequences for Karnataka and its people in the long term.