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Operation Lotus: Split wide open

Raghuvir Badrinath & Mahesh Kulkarni  |  Bangalore 

The Opposition parties in Karnataka are finally smelling blood and are gearing up to go in for the kill.

Time and again, the Congress and JD(S) tried to derail the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka. However, every time, Yeddyurappa — backed by the infamous ‘Operation Lotus’, where opposition and independent MLAs were brazenly wooed by money and power — survived. However, what he did not take into account was Karnataka Lok Ayukta Santosh Hedge, who almost single-handedly brought down the Yeddyurappa government to its knees.

It was a regime riddled with one problem or the other. Nothing new for a political party in Karnataka or, for that matter, elsewhere. But, under B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP government in Karnataka stood out as a sore thumb in the state’s history.

Issue after issue jolted Yeddyurappa’s government, which, immaterial of citizen’s voices, carried on brazenly. Be it enhancing the ecosystem for industrial development or addressing infrastructure issues, his government hardly concentrate on these key issues.

Ironically, as BJP’s first chief minister of the state landed in jail, the party’s dream of capturing power in the four southern states by making Karnataka its ‘gateway to south’ has turned out to be a nightmare.

Three other former BJP ministers are in jail for graft, the most famous being mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, imprisoned in Hyderabad’s Chanchalaguda jail for his alleged involvement in illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh.

The first of Yeddyurappa’s ministerial colleagues to go jail was H Halappa, who was jailed for the alleged rape of a woman. He was followed by Katta Subramanya Naidu and his corporator son, Katta Jagadish Naidu. On August 8, both were jailed for taking Rs 85 crore in kickbacks to grant state-owned 385 acres land to a software firm on the outskirts of Bangalore. They were followed by Reddy’s arrest on September 5.

Besides Yeddyurappa, former muzrai (endowments) minister S N Krishnaiah Shetty was also jailed on graft charges on Saturday. Case after case of mismanagement of land acquisition and illegal mining was unearthed and taken to the logical conclusion. Though the Lok Ayukta does not have conviction powers, Hegde ensured there was enough evidence for the courts to take note and carry forward the process of justice.

Reacting to Yeddyurappa’s arrest, he said in Mangalore he was not happy with on Saturday’s development and would be happy when his report on illegal mining was accepted and implemented.


* Represents Shikaripura constituency in Shimoga district; beats former chief minister S Bangarappa in 2008 to become BJP’s first chief minister in South India

* Had briefly been the CM in November 2007, before JD(S) withdrew support

* Takes charge as the chief minister on May 30, 2008, and rules for 38 months

* Faces no-trust motion thrice during his tenure

* Governor H R Bhardwaj gives permission for his prosecution twice — in January 2011, for his involvement in land denotification case; and in August 2011 — after the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicts him for accepting kickbacks from a mining company

* Resigns as the CM on July 31 after the Lokayukta report indicts him

* Denied bail and sent to jail on October 15

After stepping down as the chief minister and handing over the reins to his close aide D V Sadananda Gowda, Yeddyurappa was pretty hopeful he would be back soon in the saddle. Just a couple of months after that statement, he landed in jail.

The official BJP machinery, however, put up a brave face on Saturday evening. State BJP chief K S Eshwarappa told reporters it was a “bad day for the party” but the development would not affect Advani’s anti-corruption yatra, set to pass through the state on October 30 and 31.

“This is a bad day for us,” Eshwarappa admitted shortly after the Lokayukta special court in Bangalore rejected Yeddyurappa’s bail plea and directed his arrest in two graft cases.

“The law will take its course and we are confident Yeddyurappa will come out clean,” he added. He said Advani would not cancel the Karnataka part of his Jan Chetna Yatra against corruption. The yatra is scheduled to enter Karnataka from Kasargod in Kerala on October 30.

“The party is fully backing Yeddyurappa. He is fighting a legal battle...nothing wrong in appearing before the court. I am sure he will come out clean, all cases will be rejected in the court,” added senior BJP leader V Dhananjayakumar.

The opposition’s glee was best summed up by Manish Tiwari, official spokesperson of the All India Congress Committee, who wryly said, “Advani should begin his yatra from Bangalore”.

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First Published: Sun, October 16 2011. 00:01 IST