Talks of Replacement, Aggressive Congress Attack on Son, Divided Loyalists Unnerve BS Yediyurappa
Karnataka CM Yediyurappa at a press conference. (PTI file photo)
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa is a worried man. The main opposition Congress has stepped up attacks on his son, alleging a huge kickback in a deal. Many of his loyalist MLAs have turned against him, questioning the son’s interference in the administration. The powerful factions opposed to him are flexing their muscles and the lightweight state unit president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is becoming more assertive. Talks of the high command replacing him with someone younger and close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are once again gaining currency in political circles, causing sleepless nights to the CM and his family.
Above all, the lockdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has bankrupted the state’s exchequer, worsening the already bleak economic situation.
The Congress top brass is now training its guns on BSY’s son BY Vijayendra, demanding a thorough probe into an alleged kickback and money laundering. They have also named his son-in-law and a grandson as alleged beneficiaries of the scam. A local Kannada news channel Power TV has been forcibly shut by the state police after they aired a series of stories exposing the scam.
Yediyurappa fears that a sustained campaign by the Congress high command against his son and others might land him in a bigger soup like his previous term between 2008 and 2011. The state Congress, which was appearing to be friendly, has suddenly become aggressive, training its guns on BSY and family.
The BJP and the CM have denied the charges of kickback, challenging the Congress to provide proof or face action. But, insiders say they are worried about the fallout as the BJP high command is not really happy about the BSY regime.
Insiders admit that the allegations have some merit and an impartial probe might cause a lot of problems to the CM and his son.
Meanwhile, some of his loyalist MLAs have also turned against him, expressing their displeasure over his style of functioning accusing Vijayendra of interference in administrative matters. Some are openly hobnobbing with his rivals in the party, sending out a clear message that when things go pear-shaped, they won’t be standing by his side.
The rumours of the BJP high command in New Delhi replacing him with someone younger and closer to the RSS seem to have unnerved the 78-year-old Yediyurappa. Even the diplomatic circles in Bengaluru are talking about the possibility of a qualified MLA from north Karnataka with RSS-backing replacing him by January 2021.
The BJP high command is also looking at potential Congress leaders particularly from the Lingayat community to engineer defections to decrease the dependency on Yediyurappa.
Intra-party politics, family interference, a wary high command, Covid-19 and a grave economic situation, etc, are wearing him down, admit Yediyurappa’s close confidantes.
Will Yediyurappa continue in 2021 or will someone edge him out? Neither the BJP high command nor Yediyurappa are sure.