Amit Shah Stained By Karnataka Tapes
BJP president Amit Shah caught in controversy Photo credit: DD News

Amit Shah Stained By Karnataka Tapes

The BJP president, if one goes by the tapes, has actively participated in subverting democracy

Tapes have always raised a stink in politics. And, Karnataka can claim to be the pioneering state in the country in shaping power politics. But the news that is coming out of the latest tape is simply this. That the country’s home minister and president of the ruling BJP, Amit Shah, has participated actively in subverting democracy.

This is the hard news that emerges from the video that was surreptitiously recorded at a meeting of BJP’s district-level officials meeting at Hubballi on October 27. The video clearly records Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa categorically stating that Operation Kamala 4.0 was being “monitored” by the national party president.

That subversion of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, popularly known as the anti-defection law, resulted in the collapse of the Janata Dal Secular-Congress coalition government, bringing the BJP to power. As part of Operation Kamala 4.0, 17 Congress and Janata Dal Secular MLAs resigned so that they could contest by-elections as BJP members and return to the assembly.

The resignations ensured that the strength of the 224-member assembly was reduced just so that the BJP with its 105 members became the single largest party. The Congress strength came down from 80 to 66 and the JDS reduced from 37 to 34.

Yediyurappa’s revelation at that meeting has activated Congress and JDS leaders to demand the resignations of both the chief minister and the union home minister. But Yediyurappa has not denied his statements made at the closed-door meeting. On the contrary, he has soft-pedalled the entire issue by saying that everyone knew that the MLAs were staying in a Mumbai hotel.

What Did He Say?

“The manner in which you spoke, for some reason today, did not give me the impression that you were interested in saving this government. You knew very well isn’t it that the decision of the 17 MLAs to resign was not taken by Yediyurappa or any other state leader?

The national (party) president knew it and he himself ensured their stay in Mumbai for two and a half months and took care of them? For two and a half months, they (MLAs) did not visit their constituency or meet their wife and children. You know that, isn’t it?

But when the situation is so serious - the MLAs resigned and went to the Supreme Court to get their resignations accepted - all to facilitate our coming to power. None of you said we will stand with them, come what may. These words did not come from you.

What if you were in that position? What would you have said? This information, I know, you will share outside, isn’t it? I am certain you will share this? I did not expect this from you, I am sorry.

I need not have become chief minister. I have been chief minister three-four times. You spoke without understanding anything. I never expected this, I am sorry. Not one of you said that they have sacrificed and that is why we are in power.

They become fools isn’t it by trusting us. What was the need for them to resign and come over. We will bring all this to the notice of the Central leadership. Let them decide. Maybe I committed a crime by convincing them (disqualified MLAs).

We didn’t discuss the issue all these days as it was before the Supreme Court and the decision is likely to come in a couple of days. Our expectation, 99%, is the Supreme Court will rule in favour of their contesting (the by-elections).”

The Implications

Yediyurappa’s stand in the wake of the tape going viral, fundamentally, sets at rest the campaign within the BJP against him that it was because of his insistence that the central leadership decided to go ahead with the formation of the government.

Otherwise it would have preferred the coalition government to collapse on its own given the differences between Congress’ Siddaramaiah and Janata Dal Secular’s HD Kumaraswamy.

This would have enabled the central leadership to prefer someone younger and, more importantly, of their choice to occupy the post of chief minister.

But from the time he became the chief minister, the central leadership does not appear to have spared any effort to cause some problem or the other. Yediyurappa was denied an early approval for the formation of the ministry and then the portfolio allocation was done from Delhi. To top it all, a meagre amount was allocated to the state for flood relief.

“He is certainly trying to win over the loyalty of the disqualified MLAs by fighting for their cause. There are quite a few BJP candidates (those who had lost to the disqualified MLAs belonging to the Congress and the JDS) whose writ in their constituencies will be curbed if they win in the by-elections,” said a party leader on condition of anonymity.

Opined another leader: “It is also a nice way of using the name of Amit Shah to ensure that dissidence within the party cadre against the disqualified MLAs is curbed. His effort is to ensure that his party wins a majority of the 15 seats (where by-elections have been scheduled for December 05) . Only victory will help Yediyurappa continue in power.”

There is also the other opinion that the ‘eyes and ears’ of Shah in the party will keep this “mistake” of Yediyurappa mentioning the party president’s name in mind to settle scores with him at a later stage. Of course, this is all subject to the number of seats Yediyurappa can swing to his side to stabilise his government.

As one party worker put it: “Such things are invariably forgotten at the end of the day since we are in power and nobody would like to disturb the status quo.”

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