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BJP plays 'truth games' to save face (Karnataka Newsletter)

Bangalore, June 9 - Truth, the general belief is, will always triumph. It just has in Karnataka where talk of the town in the last four years has been that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used money, caste and other not-so-fair means to capture power in the state.

After being in denial over the way it managed to catapult to power in the state in May 2008 for the first time, the BJP has acknowledged the truth that people have been talking about all these years.

"We used money, caste, took in all and sundry going in the lanes and bylanes to form our government (in May 2008) as we did not have majority," state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa admitted at a party meeting Wednesday in his hometown Shimoga, about 280 km north of Bangalore.

The confession of the BJP's first chief minister in the south, as expected, has not evoked any public anger at all, because already people knew the reality.

The noises from the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have also been muted as they too had been going around saying that BJP liberally used money, caste and offers of ministerial and other plum posts to muster majority to grab power.

However, Eshwarappa's truth-speaking drive has, expectedly, angered Congress and JD-S legislators who 'defected' to the BJP and have become ministers.

It has also incensed several BJP legislators and ministers who are loyal to former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa as he formed the party's first government in the state in May 2008 with the help of six Independent legislators - the party had won only 110 seats in the 225-member assembly.

Later Yeddyurappa and the BJP launched what has been termed Operation Lotus (the flower is the BJP's election symbol) to lure around 10 Congress and JD-S legislators to quit the assembly and their parties and contest by-elections on the BJP ticket.

With this operation, the BJP succeeded in getting a majority of its own and now boasts of 120 members in the 225-member assembly.

Operation Lotus was believed to have been bankrolled by the now jailed mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy, whose name was particularly mentioned by Eshwarappa when he made the confession in Shimoga.

"We took in people like Janardhana Reddy," Eshwarappa said.

His statements are being seen in political circles as an attempt to distance the party further from Yeddyurappa and his loyalists as elections to the assembly are less than a year away and could possibly be held this year-end.

Yeddyurappa is facing a dozen corruption and illegal land deals cases, including mining bribery charges over which he was forced to quit in July last year.

As he was stepping up efforts to become chief minister again or replace the incumbent D.V. Sadananda Gowda with another loyalist, Yeddyurappa suffered a severe setback with the Supreme Court ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into mining bribery charges.

He fears arrest and has sought anticipatory bail from the CBI court here; a ruling on this is expected June 13.

With clear indications that Yeddyurappa will not get out of the deep legal troubles he is facing any time soon, Eshwarappa has begun to speak the truth hoping the blame for using unfair means to grab power will shift from party to the former chief minister ahead of the next polls.

It is clear from the games its factions are playing in Karnataka, the BJP is out to prove that it has mastered the art of reducing truth to a mere tool to save face and seek another term to rule the state.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at


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