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Sunday, July 31, 2011

BSY a victim of kangaroo court

By Swapan Dasgupta
The relative ease with which Karnataka’s outgoing Lokayukta was able to remove B.S. Yeddyurappa from the chief ministership has given ideas to those seeking shortcuts to change. It is not my case that Justice Santosh Hegde’s voluminous report that is yet to be released in the public domain is flawed or hasn’t made out a convincing case for the prosecution of BJP’s most prominent southern face under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The honest truth is that neither the TV channels who are shrieking with excitement nor the politicians who are insisting that Yeddyurappa is a bribe taker have the faintest idea whether the case against the Chief Minister was so conclusive as to warrant resignation. All that exists in the public domain so far is are ‘leaked’ extracts of the report and Justice Hegde’s own verbal summary of the report to the media in Bengaluru last week.
Justice Hegde has a reputation of being a man of fierce independence and integrity. These attributes made him a good choice for Lokayukta in his home state. Unfortunately, the good Judge appears to have got derailed somewhere along the way.
First, by donning the mantle of a public crusader in Team Anna he acquired a public profile and a public image which he was compelled to live up to. His repeated interventions in the media made him more of a public intellectual than a Constitutional authority. Justice Hegde lost sight of the detachment that his office demanded. He had one eye on the law but the other eye was firmly on the court of public opinion (as reflected by the media).
Secondly, the Karnataka Lokayukta entered into an unseemly public spat with the Chief Minister. It is unnecessary to judge which of the two was pricklier but the tensions helped contribute to an impression that neither Hegde nor Yeddyurappa were able to have an un-jaundiced view of the other. Hegde’s public pronouncement that only the Supreme Court would be able to bring the guilty people in the mining scam to book was a sharp indictment of the integrity of the Karnataka Government. A public intellectual had every right to make such a pronouncement but a Constitutional authority should have exercised a greater degree of tact and restraint. The vitiated environment is not good for the health of India’s already jaded institutions.
Yeddyurappa’s ability to don the mantle of victimhood will be tested by how voters view the recent turmoil in Karnataka. But considering that the BJP Government already had a legitimate grouse against a fiercely partisan Raj Bhavan that seemed to be operating as a Congress outpost, the Lokayukta’s pre-existing antipathy for the outgoing Chief Minister will be a factor in influencing public opinion. The term ‘conspiracy’ is generously bandied by politicians to explain away an unfavourable situation but Yeddyurappa—like Narendra Modi in Gujarat—may have a basis to crying foul.
The media vilification of Yeddyurappa may well be justified once the full facts of the case come are known and once the law has had the opportunity to pronounce on the subject. For the moment, given the flaws in the flow of information, there are good reasons to believe that the Karnataka Chief Minister was the victim of a kangaroo court verdict. The BJP central leadership was understandably unable to resist the media’s hectoring about its double standards and, therefore, had no choice but to insist that that Yeddyurappa step down. Yet, it is a comment on the public perception of the controversy that 75 of the 120 BJP legislators chose to side with the beleaguered Chief Minister.
This can’t be explained away as the blind loyalty of MLAs who were indebted to Yeddyurappa for local favours. MLAs have their ear firmly on the ground and would be loath to stand unflinchingly behind the Chief Minister if this went against the public mood. No wonder the BJP’s two central observers are finding it difficult to assume the role of a ‘high command’; they have to be mindful of local sensitivities even as they uphold a lofty principle.
In hindsight, the removal of Yeddyurappa has proved relatively easy. In the battle between the lofty principles of the great and the good and clutter of democracy that produces earthy and pugnacious leaders, the former has prevailed. The argument that this victory has actually strengthened the quality of democracy and encouraged politicians to be models of rectitude may well be true in the long run. The 2-G scandal, after all, was a factor in the decimation of the DMK in last May’s Assembly elections.
There is however a lurking danger. Yeddyurappa, a politician who had won a popular mandate and has maintained his standing in by-elections, was dethroned by one individual. His fall wasn’t accompanied by a widespread realisation in the Karnataka BJP that he had become a political liability—which is what usually happens when leaders are changed mid-term in western parliamentary democracies. In other words, the political drama wasn’t married to the imperatives of popular democracy.
The fall of Yeddyurappa has invoked a mixed reaction in the Congress. It is unhappy that its bid to inject an equivalence of cynicism in the corruption debate has lost a handle. But it is inspired by the advantages of a Constitutional coup in removing an opposition target. Since he can’t be defeated by electorally, their next target will be Narendra Modi.

Sunday Pioneer, July 31, 2011

10 comments:

robin said...

Swapan you are spot on. BSY was undone by the media. The evidence against him is the two transactions one a donation and other is a land sale deal. If that is true the bribe giver was Congress MPs Jindal group.
In the case of Adharsh both Shinde and Deshmukh have signed on the files but are merrily in the cabinet.
Now the next target of Congress is Subramanian Swamy and I am sure the TV channels will 'cooperate' to finish him off on the Islamic terror article issue

satyam said...

good one....
sir one of the charges against him was that he failed to control the loot....by that standard the PM too stands exposed and must do more than say opposition has SKELETONS....

Abhitosh said...

Bang on target! Perhaps it's one of those rare cases where a Constitutional functionary acted like a freelance intellectual, and free and fiery media fetched attention, normally reserved for a constitutional functionary. But, still, I personally feel that it will enhance the support which BJP enjoys in southern state, for this incident has not particularly demonized BJP. Even those empathising with BSY know that BJP, like BSY, is a victim. Congress for sure has a tough time ahead. Mounting on Himalayan heap of corruption complaints, they have been further deprived of their much exploited BSY shield. ere a Constitutional functionary acted like a freelance intellectual, and free and fiery media fetched attention, normally reserved for a constitutional functionary. But, still, I personally feel that it will enhance the support which BJP enjoys in southern state, for this incident has not particularly demonized BJP. Even those empathising with BSY know that BJP, like BSY, is a victim. Congress for sure has a tough time ahead. Mounting on Himalayan heap of corruption complaints, they have been further deprived of their much exploited BSY shield.

Sandy46 said...

Sir - agree but would you extend the same benefit of doubt and media trial constructs to Messers Kalmadi, Ashok Chavan and certainly Shashi Tharoor ? If not, you are just being partisan.

No Mist said...

I agree that BSY was hectored by the media. But there was a real perception that he was corrupt. And this was blunting BJP's war against corruption. It would have been much better had BSY taken the moral high ground and resigned voluntarily 1 year back. Since he did not do it, I feel, there was no other option.

BSY can of course come back if the allegations are dismissed. His victory would be even more convincing if he had acted voluntarily. Alas ! he has lost that chance now.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Sri.Swapan Dasgupta for this forthright voicing of opinion.

Congress party has long forfeited its right to be judgemental about BJP. Why did BJP cave in ?

One ought not to lose sight of the fact that it is Congress party that is communal.

Anonymous said...

This " corruption " charges levelled against Yediyurappa by Congress sound pathetically ludicrous. They want to deflect people's focus away from Spectrum & Commonwealth scams. Bofors is long forgotten.

Very much similar to their strident raking up of " Gujarat riots " conveniently forgetting 1984 well orchestrated pogrom against the Sikhs. Indian media is overtly pro Congress.

Our memory & attention span being short lived we get swayed. No wonder we seek catharsis in celluloid where one hero beats up all corrupt people.

None can outdistance Congress & DMK in corruption & communal politics. The Left parties are atavistically good for nothing other than derailing India's progress.

BJP needs no nonsense younger leaders than Sushma Swarajs & Advanis. Ayodhya Temple building agenda can wait. Right now one section of Indians are busy "digging into & stock taking of assets " belonging to The Deities in our Temples. Whatever be the shortcomings of BJP , at least they would not behave this bad.

Trust arrogant Congress , DMK & Left parties to encourage more such " digging " in the guise of dubious claims of poverty elimination. Apparently one Samuel Rajasekara Reddy perishing has not chastened people in high places hell bent on looting Hindu Temples.

Anonymous said...

Dear Swapan , well said . I think Indian media are dangerously hyperactive, which is not good for the democracy. I am an Indian living in Europe. Largely indian media are 'MANUFACTURING'the news rather 'REPORTING'. They took (I should tell encroaching) all the responsibility of a constitution which they are not entitled to. Media should act as watchman or rather than police or judge, or PM, CM. B

balaji said...

Mr Swapan you are wrong about this.... BSY should have gone This was not an isolated response to Lokayuktha report. There were corruption charges on him on a variety of issues for the past 2 years. It was just a tipping point of the allegation over the years. BJP to save its skin has to make him resign so that they atleast have a semblance of a chance in the next elections.
No point in supporting BSY hardly have i seen a honest non corruptible politician in India If anyone has seen a person like that please let me know

Anonymous said...

What rubbish!! When congress politicians are asked to go against similar allegations, what is the big deal with BSY? You are completely biased.