By Sunil Garodia
B S Yediyurappa (formerly Yeddyurappa) was finally sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka on Friday after a two-day wait and long periods of consultations with palmists, astrologers, tarot card readers and the like with non-stop havans thrown in for good measure. In the end, Amit Shah relented despite having doubts about the numbers when BSY pleaded with him to give the green signal as it was his "last chance" to occupy the chair.
But BSY must realize that occupying the chair for the last time and having to leave it in disgrace (if the government falls, now or later before completing the full term) will take a lot of shine out of his career. Obviously, his astrologers must have given him 'sage' advice and maybe the rebel MLAs have also chipped in with their assurance of unqualified support for the grand old man of Karnataka politics. For, otherwise, even the state BJP leaders are wary, with a few privately hoping that the rebels do not change their minds.
In politics, like in life, perceptions matter. If the BJP had dillydallied till the Speaker took a decision on the resignations of the rebels or waited for the results of the bypolls, an impression would have been created that the party was not sure of the rebels' support. That would have allowed Siddaramaiah and DK Sivakumar to work on them and perhaps make them change their minds. This was one risk the BJP could not take.
But having formed the government, the BJP must now take the rebels in confidence and assure them that they will get their pound of flesh (for the BJP cannot fool anyone by saying the resignations were not engineered by it), whatever the Speakers decision. It should tell them that if they are disqualified, bypolls will be held at the earliest and they will be accommodated after that, if they win. But how BSY will manage to induct the rebels as well the aspirants from his own party is something that will require longer periods of consultation with both Amit Shah and his own palmists and astrologers.
For, as per the 91st amendment of the Constitution, BSY can induct only 34 ministers (15 percent of the total strength of the 224-member house). At last count, there were more than 70 aspirants, including the rebels and the BJP members. BSY will find it extremely tough to keep the party flock together and keep the rebels in good humour at the same time. But as said earlier, maybe his astrologers have given him some secret formula that will allow him to last the full term. If not, Karnataka will witness another political turmoil in the very near future.