Bangalore: Will Yeddyurappa Overcome the Corruption Khedda?
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore
Bangalore, Oct 15: Karnataka’s former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who created history of sorts by being the only CM to successfully seek trust vote in the State Assembly for five times in less than two years and also overcome the recommendation to the Centre for dismissal by the State Governor not once but twice, has now earned the dubious distinction for being the first former Chief Minister from the State to go to jail on corruption charges.
Of course, Yeddyurappa has not been sent to jail after the trial but has only been remanded to judicial custody till October 22. He might yet come out on bail, if not immediately, at least in the near future.
Incidentally, the former Chief Minister is put in such predicament due to the alleged irregularities in denotification of land based on a private complaint by two city-based advocates, who had secured permission from the Governor for initiating criminal prosecution.
However, Yeddyurappa survived the threat for his dismissal. The former Maharashtra Chief Minister A R Antulay was also subjected to a similar treatment from the State’s Governor following a private complaint lodged against him. In yet another incident, the then Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala had also given permission for initiating criminal prosecution against AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa. But she was not the Chief Minister when the Governor granted the permission.
Though Yeddyurappa is not the first ex-CM to face the ignominy of finding himself behind bars, he, however, was almost sent packing by the Supreme Court when it overturned the disqualification of the 16 disgruntled MLAs, including those from the ruling BJP and Independents. The clever strategies and wooing by the ruling party in winning over the MLAs succeeded in averting the distinct possibility of the former CM being unseated.
But there have been several instances of former Chief Ministers being subjected to jail term in alleged corruption charges. The most notable among such cases is the former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was accused of the fodder scam, the former Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda or the JMM chief Shibu Soren besides Jayalalithaa caught in the disproportionate assets case, which incidentally is still pending.
While Antulay managed to stage a comeback of sorts by becoming a Union Cabinet Minister after several years, Jayalalithaa has stormed back to power ousting DMK’s M Karunanidhi. However, Madhu Koda is still behind bars.
Incidentally, Yeddyurappa has another dubious distinction: Three of his cabinet colleagues are now behind bars – S N Krishnaiah Setty, who was remanded to judicial custody on Saturday along with Yeddyurappa, G Janardhana Reddy facing CBI case monitored by the Supreme Court and Katta Subramanya Naidu. Many of his erstwhile ministerial colleagues had their own problems, especially Hartalu Halappa, who is still undergoing a case of rape against him.
The big question, however, is what is next for Yeddyurappa and whether he will survive the latest legal imbroglio. Yeddyurappa, who managed to stick on to power despite a spate corruption, nepotism and other corruption charges besides irregularities in land or site allotments or denotifications, was forced to put in his papers following the voluminous report from the former Lokayukta Justice N Santhosh Hegde. His troubles started coming home to roost only after he resigned and the CBI Special Court headed by Sudheendra Rao took up the cases pertaining to the criminal complaints that came up for hearing.
The first biggest challenge before Yeddyurappa is to overcome the legal hurdles. For the record, his application for grant of anticipatory bail has been rejected by the CBI Special Court and he has now been remanded to judicial custody. The next immediate step, undoubtedly, will be to obtain bail from the High Court. But securing bail from the court is just one of the steps which might allow him some sort of freedom to move around and carry on with his political activities. He, however, will be hampered by the restrictions that may be imposed by the court and will also have to frequently appear before the court as and when ordered to do so.
In the event of the court or courts holding Yeddyurappa guilty of the corruption charges against him and sentenced to undergo jail term, the options before the former CM will be very limited. He, might even find it difficult to contest elections.
Assuming Yeddyurppa manages to prove his innocence before the courts and prove that the charges against him were not true, he might succeed in winning the sympathy of the people. Being a past-master in enjoying the benefit of sympathy factor, especially when the former JD(S) CM H D Kumaraswamy reneged on the promise regarding transfer of power, Yeddyurappa might be able to stage a comeback.
The nearly two and half years of Yeddyurappa rule should come handy for him as a large number of people have benefitted from the Government’s various welfare schemes. In addition, Yeddyurappa has earned the goodwill and trust of almost all the infludential religious mutts through his munificent grants from the State exchequer. Most importantly, he is perhaps the most popular leader belonging to his politically powerful Lingayat or Veerashaiva community in recent times, which is predominant in the northern Karnataka region holding sway in around 120 out of the 224 assembly constituencies in the State. In fact, that and the fact that the benefits granted to various backward class communities and Dalits is described as the reason for Yeddyurappa’s repeated bravado of winning at least 150 out of the 224 seats in the Assembly in the next round of elections.
If, and that is a big if, Yeddyurappa has to stage a comeback, he has to first clear himself and overcome the stigma. The political struggle can wait, for the time being anyway.