Bad call

Failure to win ought to hurt less than outright loss, but try telling that to B.S. Yeddyurappa. Unable to reconcile himself to the failure to wrest Karnataka from the grip of the Congress in last year’s Assembly election, the BJP strongman is adopting desperate measures to get another shot at becoming Chief Minister. The H.D. Kumaraswamy government has now announced the appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to go into the veracity of an audio clip in which someone is heard offering money and ministership to win the support of a Janata Dal (Secular) MLA. Mr. Yeddyurappa has admitted it is his voice in the clip, but claims that it has been edited and doctored. Another BJP leader, Shivanagouda Nayak, was allegedly recorded as having said that the Speaker of the House, K.R. Ramesh Kumar, had been “booked” for Rs. 50 crore to rule favourably on dissident legislators of the ruling coalition. Unsurprisingly, the BJP is opposing the constitution of the SIT; instead it has called for a judicial inquiry or a probe by a House panel. But since the statements made in the audio recordings allude to transactions that are criminal in nature, law enforcement agencies are better-equipped to uncover the truth. In 2018, the BJP finished as the single largest party, but a post-poll coalition of the Congress and the JD(S) denied Mr. Yeddyurappa the chance to form the government. After being forced to step down in 2011 as Chief Minister in the wake of corruption charges, Mr. Yeddyurappa may have seen the 2018 Assembly election as his chance at political redemption. The prospect of sitting out another five years in the Opposition may have prompted the use of such underhand methods to return to power. The release of the audio clips shines a light on the Congress and the BJP herding their MLAs into resorts some weeks ago. Accusations that the BJP was trying to buy up dissidents in the Congress have now gained credence. Seven Congress MLAs and one JD(S) MLA stayed away from the Assembly proceedings, raising the suspicion that the BJP was actively wooing dissidents in both the parties to bring down the government. But BJP leaders are now the victims of their own design, as points of contact have recorded conversations offering money and giving assurances for switching sides. The JD(S)-Congress government is by no means a cohesive unit, but the BJP’s covert attempts to engineer defections have certainly backfired. The wiser course for the BJP would have been to politically capitalise on the internal contradictions of the coalition government rather than resort to covert means to destabilise it. Desperate measures are aimed at immediate rewards, but these invariably result in long-term damage. The Congress outsmarted the BJP by cobbling together an opportunistic alliance with the JD(S). The BJP will be better served by time and patience, not money power and corruption.

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