MONEY, blackmail, lies and deception have always been the lifeblood of politics. Nowhere is this truer than in Karnataka where over the past few weeks a disgusting natak ( drama) has been played by the country’s two main political parties. A government that was supposedly sailing along smooth was overnight brought to the brink of disaster and politics reduced to the level of the cesspool.
If anything, the natak in Karnataka reflects the collapse of the concept of collective leadership of both the national parties— the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) and the Congress. While their state leaders were indulging in horse trading, naked misuse of money and violation of constitutional norms, the national leaders of the BJP were oblivious to the goings on, some seniors being on foreign jaunts while others like Shanta Kumar who ironically is the BJP’s pointman for Karnataka were unaware of the impending crisis. In the Congress, the plan was hatched by a section of the High Command.
Now that the harried Yeddyurappa has won an unprecedented second vote of confidence in less than a week, everything seems to have come back to square one. He is still the chief minister and H. R. Bhardwaj who is being painted as the main accomplice, still resides in Raj Bhavan.
An inquest is bound to follow and what remains to be seen is if anyone will be made to pay the price. If so, it will be Bhardwaj who attracts controversy like moths are drawn to light. As a former union law minister and a legal eagle who has got many a VVIP off the hook, he is the last one you would expect to trip up on a matter with serious legal implications. Congress Governors have traditionally been masters at the black art of destabilising non- Congress governments and Bhardwaj’s appointment in Bangalore was meant to serve a purpose.
The Congress, characteristically, was having its cake and eating it too. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who is in charge of Karnataka was the party’s invisible hand whose responsibility was to save both the central leadership and the Prime Minister from direct line of fire in the event of Operation Topple backfiring.
Mercifully for the Congress leadership, the BJP reserved its ire for the governor. Under pressure, the normally unflappable Bhardwaj did several flip flops. The last of which was to ask Yeddyurappa to prove his majority after he had already recommended dismissal of the government. No one knows the fate of the Governor's recommendation of dismissal. Has the Union cabinet rejected it or has it been kept away for future use?
Now that the sordid drama is Yeddyurappa behind us, the pieces are slowly falling into place. If public posturing is anything to go by, the Congress has dumped the governor. Insiders at 24 Akbar Road tell me that the governor exceeded his brief.
The Congress would not have ventured into such adventurism when it knew that there would be hurdles in getting the dismissal of the Yeddyurappa government and imposition of President’s Rule ratified by both houses of Parliament.
I gather that during last week’s meeting with the prime minister, the BJP leaders conveyed to him that they would boycott the joint session of Parliament being convened for President Barack Obama’s address if the Yeddyurappa government is dismissed. The PMO was also told that the BJP was in possession of tapes ( similar to the Moily tapes that toppled the Ramakrishna Hegde government in 1983) that had the Raj Bhawan, Janata Dal ( Secular) and Congress discussing terms and the contours of the Operation Topple. Once the High Command was convinced about the fall out, it backtracked.
TV pundits have already decreed that Bhardwaj has fallen out of favour. Nothing could be farther from the truth because the Congress leadership needs his legal skills in future too. But for the moment, Bhardwaj is the scapegoat. He has named two top AICC leaders as the villains of the piece and sources close to him say whatever he did was at their behest after messages were conveyed through a union minister. Bhardwaj is not known to be a quitter, but very reliable sources tell me that he may put in his papers on Tuesday.
This has set alarm bells ringing in the Congress which is now trying to placate him by swapping governors at the Bangalore and Bhubaneswar Raj Bhavans. In that case, watch out Naveen Patnaik!