By Yatindra Bhatnagar
The former Karnataka Chief Minister
BS Yeddyurappa's arrest on graft charges have given a big jolt to the Bharatiya Janata Party's comparatively clean image.
Power corrupts almost everyone, and almost everywhere, and India's politics is no exception.
the bail applications would be heard on Nov. 3 and the cases on Nov. 16. Meanwhile the BJP leader's arrest and corruption
charges have cast a shadow on senior leader and former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani's nationwide Rath Yatra against corruption.
It's really sad that in the only southern state where the BJP got a majority and formed their first government the local stalwart
is hauled up behind bars awaiting serious charges of graft.
However, there is no doubt that in
Indian politics the Bharatiya Janata Party is the lesser evil on the corruption scene. There are nine states ruled by BJP
and BJP-led NDA and the instances of corruption are few and far between.
Not that the BJP politicians
are paragon of virtue but in most of the cases they have been comparatively clean. May be their background, their training,
their belief in certain principles, and that they have been much of the time away from power, have contributed to the ‘clean'
image. The perception about them is that they don't run after money, abuse their power and position relentlessly and callously.
They know that they will lose whatever they have earned if they start competing with Congress and their cronies in the race
And also they have set a certain standard in political decency by tendering resignations
whenever there were serious criminal charges against their leaders. LK Advani resigned, Uma Bharti had resigned and even the
Karnataka's Chief Minister Yeddyurappa did the same, though after a lot of hesitancy and cajoling. But he did resign.
On the other hand the Congress-led UPA government and its allied parties have presented a whole spectacle of corruption
unmatched in India's post-independent history.
There are serious charges against the Central
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and other Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan but they are still
on the job. The Goa mining scam that goes against Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, has also not prompted Congress to take action
against him. The top Congress leadership did not ask them to quit. In the various big scandals even the names of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her family in India and Italy are being mentioned but nobody there
even thinks of resigning and letting the law take its course.
The Congress allies such as DMK
party has a host of corrupt people - some of them behind prison bars - but the coalition continues. Nobody resigned. Some
were defeated at the polls and some others arrested but are being defended in some way or the other.
the BJP's former Chief Minister of Karnataka is certainly a new blot on their record that might be defended in law courts
but as of now it has given critics the sword to strike at the party. It looks that Yeddyurappa was involved in some kind of
scandal - land or his family's businesses - and that has taken some shine off the BJP's anti-graft campaign.
This is more so in the light of the tallest BJP leader and the former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani's
Jan Chetna Yatra (mainly against corruption). The BJP critics in and outside the Congress party have a good opportunity to
attack BJP for this big lapse and they are trying to cash that in various ways through various leaders and spokespersons who
themselves might not be above board in the murky world of politics.
Of course the timing of Yeddy's
arrest couldn't have been worse. Though Yeddyurappa is no longer the Chief Minister he remains the top leader in Karnataka
and probably still is thinking of returning at the head of the state government if and when he is cleared. But at this time
Yeddyurappa's arrest in the graft case threatens to derail BJP veteran Advani's yatra and has provided Congress and the other
anti-BJP hordes a golden opportunity to hit back at the formidable rival for the next general elections.
The Times of India reported that the BJP presented a brave face after Yeddyurappa's arrest reiterating that the party
had "zero tolerance" to corruption, but the blushes were hard to hide as Advani's 40-day yatra is less than a week
old. The campaign, already muddied by speculation over leadership claims, is headed for more adverse scrutiny.
While BJP spokesperson Jagat Nadda argued that a hint of approbation in the Lokayukta's report led to Yeddyurappa
quitting, his Congress counterpart Manu Abhishek Singhvi pointed out that the Karnataka BJP leader had defied his party and
almost chose the date and time of his resignation as CM.
The BJP pointed to inaction against
Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G telecom scam and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for the Commonwealth Games fiddles.
However, Yeddyurappa's dramatic arrest introduced a degree of equivalence between BJP and Congress with both sides pointing
to the other's vulnerabilities.
BJP's own internal problems are multiplying even otherwise with
Advani's perceived attempt at a political makeover and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's reported differences with the
party and RSS. These were already in the news the whole week.
However, Advani has said that "I
do not hold the Congress alone responsible for corruption. It is our duty to deal with corruption within our own party."
Yeddyurappa was arrested, Oct. 15, on charges of illegally garnering prize real estate for himself
and his family, an embarrassment that could leave the party's only southern government wobbly.
BJP strongman has built the party into a formidable force in Karnataka and headed its first government in the south but now
is in Bangalore's Central Jail after a judge remanded him to judicial custody.
Such has been
the dramatic fall from grace for Yeddyurappa. While he weathered the dissidence, he was undone by his family which contracted
a large number of questionable business deals that involved Yeddyurappa de-notifying large tracts of expensive land in Bangalore
in favor of his sons and son-in-law's associates in the two-and-a-half years he was in power.
arrest comes two-and-a-half months after Yeddyurappa was forced to resign as Chief Minister by the BJP high command following
strictures against him in Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde's mining report.
Yeddyurappa, the first
former CM to be sent to jail in Karnataka, joined fellow accused and former ministerial colleague, Ess Enn Krisshnaiah Setty,
in prison. The other 22 accused in the cases, including Yeddyurappa's sons B Y Raghavendra and B Y Vijayendra and son-in-law
R N Sohan Kumar, were granted conditional bail.
As with his resignation, there was drama aplenty
before the 68-year-old politician surrendered. He went missing for over four-and-a-half hours after his bail plea was rejected,
keeping in suspense the Lokayukta police who visited his Race Course Road and Dollars Colony residences to execute the arrest
Amid reports that he had almost reached Tumkur and was planning to seek shelter in a
religious institution there, the former Chief Minister surfaced in court at 4.44pm.
Sudhindra Rao immediately ordered that the accused be sent to judicial custody till October 22. Following pleas from counsel
about his client's frail health, the judge directed the jail authorities to provide proper medical assistance. Turning down
requests from Yeddyurappa's counsel to recall the warrant, the judge ordered a Lokayukta deputy SP to personally escort Yeddyurappa
and convey the orders of the court to jail authorities.
As Yeddyurappa walked out of the court
hall at 4.55pm, he tried to flash a smile, but his trademark 'V' sign was missing. His sons were desperately trying to hold
themselves back from breaking down.
It all began in the morning. Yeddyurappa was absent when
the court took up the two cases for hearing at 11am. His counsel moved an application seeking exemption from appearance and
stated that he was suffering from back pain and unable to climb the stairs and, hence, could not make it to the hearing. He
further claimed that Yeddyurappa had been advised bed rest for five days.
Taking objection, the
court said the question of exemption didn't arise, as it had reserved order on his bail plea. "Where is he? Has he been
hospitalized?" the judge asked.
Yeddyurappa's counsel replied that he was taking rest at
home. Complainant Sirajin Basha's counsel C H Hanumantharaya took objection and stated that it was only an excuse as the former
CM was actively attending party functions and visiting temples.
At 12.05pm, the judge pronounced
the order, denying bail to Yeddyurappa and Setty. He issued an arrest warrant against Yeddyurappa in both the cases. The judge
directed the police to take Setty, who was present in court, into custody.
The case was posted
for 1pm. Armed with the arrest warrant, the Lokayukta police, headed by deputy SP Prasanna V Raju and Abdul Ahad, went in
search of Yeddyurappa. Though the former CM's counsel had submitted that he was taking rest at home, the police team could
not find him at his Race Course Road and Dollar's Colony residences. The Lokayukta police were clueless while Yeddyurappa's
counsel was busy deliberating the future course of action.