Bangalore: The more
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asserts that the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does not involve itself in its internal
affairs, the greater the chances that it does - and publicly.
In Karnataka, the only state the BJP is ruling in southern India,
it is the RSS that is calling the shots, and not the party "high
command", in disciplining the warring groups in the state unit.
With various factions turning the BJP's "gateway to south India"
into a battle ground to control the state unit as well as the
government, the RSS clearly did not want to take chances of
leaving to party high command to restore order.
It intervened, amid a glare of publicity, to impose truce and send
out a message to its cadres and sympathisers, on whom the BJP
hugely depends to mobilise votes, that it is the final arbiter.
The RSS action followed weeks of public spat between pro and anti-B.S.
Yeddyurappa factions on the role the former chief minister should
play in the state unit and government.
Forced to quit as chief minister in July last year over corruption
charges, Yeddyurappa and his supporters have been lobbying to
re-instate him or make him state unit chief or declare him the
supreme leader of the state unit.
As the fighting showed no signs of abating despite BJP central
leaders reportedly making clear that Yeddyurappa's case will be
considered only after he is cleared of corruption charges, the RSS
State RSS functionaries Friday summoned Yeddyurappa, his successor
D.V. Sadananda Gowda, state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa and a few
ministers and are said to have made it clear that none of them is
indispensable to the party.
Work for the party's goals - and not personal ambitions - or face
action was the stern message from them, say RSS sources.
From the RSS viewpoint, this was necessary as the BJP has just
about 15 months to undo the damage to its image from corruption
scandals and prove that it can give a good government as the state
faces assembly elections in April-May next year.
The BJP has been a divided house even before it managed to capture
power in the state for the first time in May 2008.
It fought the 2008 assembly elections amidst a wrangle within the
state unit that Yeddyurappa was using the polls to emerge larger
than the party.
And it stares at the next polls with the Yeddyurappa factor
looming large - corruption cases against him and his efforts to be
considered the party's supreme leader in the state.
With the BJP central leadership either unclear or divided over how
to resolve the Karnataka maze, it had become a field day for
Yeddyurappa loyalists to repeatedly claim that he will soon be
re-instated as chief minister or officially declared the supreme
leader of the state unit.
Excise Minister M. P. Renukacharya, a rebel-turned-Yeddyurappa
loyalist, had gone to the extent of saying that Sadananda Gowda
had promised the former chief minister that he will quit whenever
Yeddyurappa asked him to do so.
Another minister, Murugesh Nirani, had said he had suggested to
BJP central leaders to make state unit chief Eshwarappa deputy
chief minister and Yeddyurappa the state unit president.
The cacophony was clearly too loud for the RSS and giving up its
preference to be a behind-the-scene-actor, the state functionaries
let the media know that they are entering the picture to
orchestrate a unity tune in the divided unit.
The patch-work may hold till the assembly election is called when
the factional battle is certain to resume over party tickets for
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at email@example.com)