The end of B S Yeddyurappa’s brief spell in office as Chief Minister of Karnataka was almost anti-climactic. The party that over the past four years has pulled rabbits out of the hat at will found itself clutching a lemon on Saturday.
Mr Yeddyurappa had to confess in full public glare that the exercise the Bharatiya Janata Party had undertaken to expand its numbers ~ through defections from the ranks of rivals ~ had come a cropper.
Before this moment came to pass, his opponents played out taped conversations that purportedly had top BJP leaders, including the outgoing CM, seeming to offer inducements to Congress MLAs to cross the floor.
Whether these conversations were real as the Congress alleged, or doctored as the BJP retorts, is of little consequence.
At the bar of public opinion, the BJP ~ and this must include its nominee as Governor ~ emerged as a party that can as easily jettison scruples and propriety as any other political grouping.
That it can, when push comes to shove, be as corrupt as those it says it wants to rid the country of. As we had commented in these columns a couple of days ago, the BJP had missed a trick when it opted for the unprincipled political slugfest that on Saturday left it with so much egg on its face.
With this self-goal, the BJP has pulled itself down from the pedestal of probity it had occupied four years ago. Here on, it will all just be a matter of politics in the unrhythmic but frenzied dance we call our democracy.
The BJP must therefore now view the happenings of the week through a political prism. When it does so, it will realise that Saturday’s loss of face in Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha is a blessing in disguise. For there are several factors that are or can be turned to the BJP’s advantage.
The party is saved the ignominy of managing a fragile coalition propped up by opportunistic defectors. It is insulated for now from the demands of mining barons and assorted others who never were ideological co-passengers.
It has been presented, on the contrary, with a chance to watch from the side-lines while partners as unlikely as the Congress and the JD(S) come together in an unequal partnership, one where the stronger partner has by design agreed to kowtow to the weaker.
Once the euphoria of the moment has passed, the fragility of the Congress-JD (S) coalition will reveal itself. The BJP has, in short, been presented with a chance to return to the voters of Karnataka and elsewhere in 2019, saying “we told you so.” If the intention of the party is to secure a second term, Karnataka may well just have paved the way.
Conversely, the Opposition too must realise the daunting task it faces – it will need several Karnatakas if it hopes to dislodge the BJP. But let’s leave that for another day.