With the Central Bureau of Investigation registering a First Information Report against B.S. Yeddyurappa, his two sons and son-in-law, a mining company and a businessman in the CBI Special Court in Bangalore following an order of the Supreme Court on May 11, the crisis in the turbulent Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has intensified even further. Forced by his party's central leadership to step down as Chief Minister nine months ago on account of allegations of corruption in mining deals by the Lokayukta Report on Illegal Mining, a restive Mr. Yeddyurappa has been agitating for his reinstatement, especially after a division bench of the Karnataka High Court this March quashed both a portion of the Lokayukta report, and the Governor's sanction to prosecute him based on the report. The legal intervention by the Dharwad-based NGO, Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, added force and mass to the allegations against Mr. Yeddyurappa, resulting in the appointment of the Central Empowered Committee by the Supreme Court. Now facing a special CBI team, Mr. Yeddyurappa's position in the party and government is at its weakest, notwithstanding his defiance, and the sound and fury that his uncertain support base of loyal legislators, religious seers and “elders” have drummed up in recent days. His response to the Supreme Court order has been one of injured innocence, and he has rallied his supporters against the three top leaders of the state BJP — Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, BJP State president K.S. Eswarappa and national general secretary Ananth Kumar, accusing them of having written to the central party leadership in March this year charging six of his supporters of “anti-party activities.”
For all his bluster, the former Chief Minister is acutely aware of the ground slipping from under his feet. The BJP central leadership has not extended him support even as the Congress has spurned his overtures, prompting him to quickly withdraw his threat to quit from the party and legislature. The CBI inquiry marks a stage in the long period of factional turmoil in the party and government caused by Mr. Yeddyurappa's actions both during his controversial innings as Chief Minister, and after he stepped down. The central party leadership for its own reasons did not intervene to course-correct the government in the initial years of its tenure when the mining mafia was consolidating its political clout. If the BJP has suffered irreparable damage, it is the State that has had to pay the price for the callous disregard of day-to-day governance by its squabbling leaders. Karnataka deserves better.