Nation Current Affairs 01 Sep 2019 Is BL Santhosh The n ...

Is BL Santhosh The new ‘Modi’ of Karnataka?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | PROF DR N PRABHUDEV
Published Sep 1, 2019, 6:18 am IST
Updated Sep 1, 2019, 6:18 am IST
Karnataka has been electing parties that have gone against the national trend.
BL Santhosh
 BL Santhosh

Mr. High Command, be aware that Karnataka invariably elects a government which is not the same as the central government.

2018 saw the coalition government of Congress and JDS when NDA government was at the Centre. 2019 under the coalition government saw Modi get 25 seats of the 28 Lok Sabha seats.

 

Karnataka has been electing parties that have gone against the national trend. This, almost always, has led to Karnataka having a government directly at odds with the one at the Centre. “We have seen this trend right from 1972. It is the political culture of this state.”

Currently there has been a change of government midway from an opposition-led coalition government to that of a BJP government.  The coming assembly elections if held in March-April would probably be in favour of either Congress or some combination of the kind, as there is a BJP government at the Centre. For over 15 years now, Karnataka voters are giving unstable governments at odds with the Centre.

The Number 3 - haunting BSY
After the fall of the Congress-JDS government, BSY was made to wait for 3 days to be sworn in as CM. He was made to wait for three weeks to expand his cabinet. He was forced to have the luxury of 3 DCMs despite not being in favour of the creation of DCM post.

In all probability, B.L. Santhosh will be CM of Karnataka around March – April after the mid-term elections in Karnataka. BSY is now past 76 –past the BJP's age-limit for positions of power. He is the Chief Minister, but this realisation of his dreams might be short-lived. The next elections to the assembly will have to be fought under the combined leadership of BL Santhosh and the three DCMs. It is considered that BL Santhosh enjoys the trust of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. His views have often played a key role in the party's decisions related to southern states, especially Karnataka, a place he hails from and where he was the BJP's general secretary for eight years from 2006.

In Gujarat in 2001, Keshubhai Patel's health was failing. His administration's handling of the earthquake in Bhuj in 2001 led to the BJP national leadership seeking a new chief minister. Modi, was chosen as a replacement. On 3 October 2001 he replaced Patel as Chief Minister of Gujarat.

B.L. Santhosh has been elevated as national general secretary of the BJP. Always seen in his trademark half-sleeved cotton shirt with a 'panche', Santhosh’s  name is whispered in BJP corridors with awe and reverence.

He steered the party when its most influential mass leader in Karnataka, BS Yediyurappa, quit six years ago to launch his own outfit – the KJP. Leadership stint in those troubled days may come handy soon.

At some point, maybe six months down the line, there is a strong feeling he could be a possible chief minister of Karnataka. He is a media shy operator who is known to connect grassroot-level workers and caste-backed leaders.

Many felt that Modi, an ‘organization' man, that too one without family ties, would make a good CM for Gujarat. He proved it. It is better to have leaders who have no family ties, than have leaders who think their family is the entire state. BLS is an organizational man with no family ties — very much like Modi. It remains to be seen if he can be the Modi of Karnataka.

His relations with are frosty. Months ahead of the 2018 elections,  had publicly blamed Santhosh for the internal rebellion he was facing. Yediyurappa had openly criticized Santhosh for working against him. Santhosh, sure is calling the shots.

Santosh, an RSS pracharak working in the BJP since 2006, is considered an ideologue who is equally well-versed with the dynamics of electoral politics. It is widely rumored that BJP high command after its stellar performance in 2019 elections to the parliament winning 25 out of 28 seats decimating Congress and JDS, wants to seize the pro- BJP mood of the people, to go for midterm elections to the assembly may be in March-April 2020 and win 170 seats- equivalent of 25 MPs.

Majority of the BJP MLAs are not willing to face elections so soon - within two years of 2018 elections. They told the high command in no uncertain terms that they cannot afford an election so early. So, reluctantly, the high command permitted BSY to take oath as CM. They showed their annoyance by not permitting BSY to form the cabinet for three weeks. The CM was not given appointment to meet the president several times to finalize his cabinet. Its unheard of that a CM of its own government is made to wait for the appointment.

Appointment of three DCMs
It is widely believed that Central govt is just tolerating BSY. Karnataka was devastated by floods causing damages to the tune of `30,000 crore and loss of some hundred lives. To this day, not a single rupee of central assistance has come to the state even after three weeks. Where are the 25 MPs? Is it contempt for Karnataka or BSY?

The BJP central leadership’s act of thrusting its decisions on BSY is also an indication of mistrust of a leader who has damaged the party’s prospects in the past at the hint of being sidelined — BSY had launched the KJP.

BSY was against the creation of a DCM post. Santhosh suggested to the party president and enforced the decision to create not one, not two but three DCM posts much to the embarrassment of BSY. Mr. Santhosh also selected his own candidates for the DCM posts and party president approved the list in toto! He saw to it that the chosen DCM candidates will not usurp his position seeking the CM’s post after elections.

DCM #1: Mr Govind Karijol is from the SC category. Sriramulu, Jarkiholi and Eshwarappa were not considered as they are popular leaders who could challenge Mr. Santhosh for the CM post. Aravind Limbavali was ignored as he had pan Karnataka presence and could pose a threat.

DCM #2: Dr Ashwathanarayana, a Vokkaliga and third time MLA, was never a minister before. He was given the DCM post being in too junior a position to challenge B.L.S.

R. Ashoka, a Vokkaliga - a six-time MLA from Bengaluru, lords over the City’s BJP MLAs. Bengaluru - with 28 MLAs, is his fiefdom. He had opposed the MP candidacy of Tejasvi Surya, a blue-eyed boy of Santhosh. He was not considered even though he had already served as a DCM. Mr C.T. Ravi also a Vokkaliga- a four-time MLA who had strong roots was also not considered for the DCM post.

DCM no 3-Mr. Laxman Savadi, a defeated candidate and not a member of either assembly or council was made DCM despite strong objections from legislators and BSY himself. He is a Lingayat. BSY is also a Lingayat. He was defeated even in the DCC Bank elections in Belagavi. He is not known beyond Athani constituency in Belagavi. He is to be the Lingayat face of BJP. Earlier, he had to resign as a minister for seeing a porn movie in the Assembly with two others who gave him company. He cannot challenge BSL and hence was made DCM.

Mr Umesh Katthi, an eight-time MLA, Mr Jagadish Shettar - former CM, Mr. Bommai-  four time MLA, former minister, all were ignored as they could challenge Mr. BSL to the CM’s Post.

None of the three DCMs, as of now can be expected to win votes for the party. At best they can tie him down and corner BSY at the behest of high command. It will be left to Modi to get votes.

Shah’s decision to do away with traditional considerations such as seniority, influence, and caste equations in the allocation of berths and imposing the DCMs may prove counterproductive. The voters of Karnataka are being taken for granted. Interesting times are ahead.

— Prof. Dr. N. Prabhudev, was a former VC of BU

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