Ambedkar on dynastic politics – Part 4 : The Karnataka story 

Modi’s charisma is a myth, and BJP banks on corrupt political families  to make a dent in the South

Modi Yeddyurappa1

Modi embraces  Yeddyurappa, former CM of Karnataka, who was earlier expelled from BJP on established corruption charges. Now in 2024, his son was made the party chief in the state, over the heads of many seniors, including three former CMs. So much for Modi’s “struggle against hereditary rule and Bhrashtachar (corruption).”   BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) is the pioneer of Operation Lotus (more on it given below ), long before Modi became PM and teamed up with Amit Shah, to enlarge its scope in every aspect and across India,and perfected the “game of poaching” legislators of other parties and toppling governments. 

In an interview with Deccan Herald in March 2019, B. S. Yediyurappa said “Operation Kamala (Lotus) was not wrong and I don’t regret it. It is part of democracy.” It is not for nothing that Modi and Amit Shah elevated him at age 78 to the BJP High Command.

Karnataka went to polls on April 26, and claims are made of BJP winning there, Modi charisma enabling victory. This story, part-4 of an article, needs to be studied by political scientists : BJP does not bank on Modi’s charisma, particularly in South. This article seeks to bring out what lies behind and beneath the so-called charisma, which is more a godi (lap dog) media hype than real.

One caveat: We do not imply that other parties are better; they are all of a piece. They hop from one party to another and BJP welcomes the most corrupt also with open arms. In fact, Congress indulged in all this in its heyday.

Now a contention is going on: Which of these two parties is the Team-A, and which is Team-B, both serving the ruling classes, native and foreign, including semi-feudal landlord classes.

In Karnataka, there are scores of bigwigs who own hundreds of acres of farmlands, notwithstanding all land and tenancy laws. It is not a secret too. 

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Wadiyar, a  grandson of Mysuru maharaja, was given the BJP ticket. His uncle Srikantadatta Wadiyar was a 4-time MP from the same constituency. There are other feudals, as also feudal bourgeoisie.

Even across India, with all the hyped charisma, Modi-led BJP obtained 38 percent of – not total electorate- but of polled vote in 2019 Loksabha polls. And that after spending an estimated Rs. 60,000 cr at that time.

This part deals with BJP’s degenerate, hereditary and corrupt politics, how it courts corrupt but powerful families, unabashedly indulges in open horse-trading, to make a dent in South India where it has been too weak. And how the BJP perfected the “game of poaching” legislators of other parties, shamelessly defended by BJP.  It is a story the so-called political observers of the Establishment seek vainly to cover up.

In Karnataka, it is not Modi’s charisma, as it is painted, that sustains BJP; it is only a minor factor shown for public consumption. After all, despite him, Adityanath and Amit shah’s tricks , BJP was defeated in May 2023  Assembly elections by an equally corrupt and faction-ridden Congress (Siddaramaiah, the CM faces 50 plus Lokayukta corruption cases).

In  2023 Congress polled 43% vote, and won 135 out of 224 seats,  as against BJP’s 36% and 66 seats (JDS got 19 seats with 13.3 % vote). Even in 2018, Congress polled 38 % votes, against BJP’s 36.35%. The Congress-JDS post poll alliance helped a coalition that was toppled by Operation Lotus, enabling BSY to grab CM’s post. In all this, we see not Modi’s charisma, but his tricks. 

See this latest news on polling in Karnataka on April 26 :

Tejasvi Surya is booked in a case by Karnataka’s Chief Electoral Officer “ at Jayanagar PS u/s 123(3) for posting a video in X handle and soliciting votes on the ground of religion.”  He is often referred to as “firebrand leader” …This educated, youthful, active and sophisticated BJP MP, from Bengaluru South is notorious for his rabid Hindutva. Despite these ‘great’ efforts of Tejasvi Surya, polling in Bengaluru city, is as usual low at around 52-53%. “Nearly half of Bengaluru voters give LS elections a miss”, TOI reported Apr 26.

 A case has also been booked against BJP leader C T Ravi for “promoting hatred and enmity between different classes of citizens.” The FIR has been filed by election officials in Chikkamagaluru district.

This is how BJP seeks to make a dent in South, to compensate for any setbacks in the North, where BJP had already peaked:

The current election saw UP (in 8 seats of this phase-2)record a lowest voter turn-out of 55%, like in metros,( 7 points lower than in 2019), despite Modi, Adityanath, and Ayodhya. So also Bihar at 57%, 6 points lower, despite Nitish come-back to NDA. The figures indicate aversion, rather than Modi charisma hyped by the media.  

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Not Modi’s charisma, but notoriously corrupt families and caste factors sustain BJP in Karnataka : the Yeddyurappa factor

Yedyurappa welcomes Gali Janardhana Reddy

BSY welcomes Gali Janardhana Reddy (Right), back into BJP, in March, just before Loksabha elections.Both of them, who together pioneered Operation Lotus, were expelled from BJP on corruption charges, established by judicial agencies. Both were in jails, but managed to be bailed out. Reddy faced a case also on bribing a judge. Both set up their own parties, contested and won elections, and taught a lesson or two to BJP.

Modi- Amit shah duo made up with, and rewarded both of them. They lured other such families, including JDS,  and went into the 2024 Loksabha elections. They never relied on Modi’s charisma built by a godi media.  

BJP manipulated corrupt and opportunist families, and built their party in Karnataka. We shall see some of them in this article. It was not based on their ideology. That began long before Modi-Shah era. BSY became the CM first time in 2008, long before Modi arrived as PM. That was how BJP got into power in the South the first time.

 Yeddyurappa is a major factor, and we shall see glimpses of his story.

Because of several  established corruption charges, Yeddyurappa, a strongman from the majority Lingayat community, was made to quit as chief minister in July 2011 over findings of Lokayukta indicting him on illegal mining issue. There were other scams too like the Bangalore urban land irregularities.  

 Yeddyurappa was in jail for 25 days in 2011 October-Nov, and he managed to get a bail, unlike these days when Jharkhand and Delhi CMs are denied bail. He had deserted BJP , set up his own party, but  was invited back. A few glimpses of his  story, given below,  help one to understand the Modi-led BJP.

Modi-Shah duo is under his shadow in Karnataka, as BSY called the shots: 

He was arrested in for two different cases that involved him using his office as Chief Minister to make prime property available to his children and their spouses at phenomenal bargains. There are five different cases that accuse Mr Yeddyurappa of land scams.
”His term as chief minister was littered with investigations, allegations and rumours of brazen and relentless graft. But it was only in July, when he was indicted in a report on illegal mining, that the BJP over-ruled his objections and ordered him to quit as the head of its first government in the South.”

Before he was arrested, bureaucrats sent him files on important matters before the new Chief Minister received them..

“ Mr Yeddyurappra’s supporters were outraged that Mr Advani had taken a strong stand against the former CM. Mr LK Advani stated that the BJP had to deal with corruption among its own if it wanted to convince the people that it has the right to take on the Congress over corruption.

Advani said: “ We had cautioned them in advance but when the Lokayukta report came out, he had to resign immediately. We are fully aware of the fact that no party can effectively win the confidence of the people against the present corruption of the Congress party if its own house is bedeviled with similar weaknesses.”

(News Agencies,NDTV, November 08, 2011).  

BSY quit BJP and returned too:  

“ A year after he walked out of the BJP alleging betrayal, Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) chief BSY rejoined the party.” India TV, January 09, 2014, reported. That indicates the bitterness that led to formation of a rival party, by a man who since his youth was in RSS. Then degeneration set in, both in the man and the RSS. “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

He was a CM for four times, never for full term, due to such charges and factionalism within BJP – a struggle for spoils of power. Lingayat matha Heads (seers), most of them presided over empires worth billions, openly revolted – many times–  came out, held conclaves and warned BJP that he must be restored to power. Modi-led BJP yielded.  

Thus the BJP came round to wean back BSY, as an analyst commented:

“ After making a deliberate move away from the shadow of its Lingayat community strongman and former CM BSY aged 78, the BJP on Nov 10, 2023, appeared to return to him by appointing his younger son and first-time MLA B Y Vijayendra, 47, as its Karnataka president…The move comes as the party tries to revitalize its main caste base of the Lingayats in Karnataka ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, following a huge loss in the state polls held in May 2023….“Lingayat vote weighs heavy on party after 2023 May loss and ahead of 2024 polls; indicates BJP has given up for now bid to take state unit out of BSY’s giant shadow. (indianexpress.com, November 10, 2023). 

 Yediyurappa formally said his return to BJP was “unconditional.” In fact the unwritten condition, or reward, is the appointment of his son as BJP chief.

Modi-Amit shah do not want to emulate Vajpayee or Advani.

The new duo proved the old leaders wrong, who claimed they are a party with a difference. They successfully showed they can indulge in brazen corruption, and worst crimes, and still get away with them. 

Their DNA is different, and it is close to that of corrupt Congress party, whom they replaced, on their own in 2014, as a B-team of the ruling classes. The BJP wants to be the A-team, while the degenerate Congress wants to come back. In most places where BJP faces Congress as main rival, the BJP is having an upper hand, also due to the inglorious  past of the Congress. Even a most corrupt BJP is able to challenge Congress. 

BJP wants  Congress-mukt bharat only to be its substitute, not an alternative, serving USA, native exploiting classes, in particular the comprador Big Business Houses. 

So it is under Chandra Babu Naidu (CBN) of TDP in Andhra Pradesh, with whom NDA is revived and  re-organized in AP. BJP that polled less than one percent vote, less than NOTA votes, on its own in AP in 2019 Loksabha polls, was rewarded with six parliament seats by an opportunist Naidu, who fears and tacitly conceded that his political fortunes have come to a dead end, and this unholy alliance is inevitable. (But more of it later in the next part of this article.)   

BSY had to be replaced by other CMs like Jagadish shettar and Basavaraj Bommai. They were all “ littered with investigations, allegations and rumours of brazen and relentless graft.”The last summer saw a corrupt Congress, led by Siddaramaiah and DK Shiva Kumar, return to power as BJP regime was exposed and branded as “40% commission sarkar,” worse than “10% commission” government of Congress. It was a suicide by a BJP contractor – who charged he was coerced by BJP Government to pay 40% commission, which he could not afford – that rattled and ended BJP rule.       

BSY said the Congress had benefited as a result of the BJP and KJP contesting the May 8 Assembly elections separately in the state. BSY had earlier garnered 10 per cent vote share and six seats. Yeddyurappa said he had left the BJP out of “inevitable circumstances.” (India Today Online, Dec 30, 2013.) And despite Modi-Amit Shah, BJP equally inevitably welcomed him back.

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Operation Lotus, of Karnataka origin, enlarged by BJP

Amit Shah Gali Janardhana Reddy

Amit Shah very recently with billionnaire Gali Janardhana Reddy (Right), karnataka’s iron-ore mining baron, who is the prime accused in a slew of (at least nine) CBI cases of illegal mining and corruption dating back to the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government of 2008-2013. (X/@GaliJanardhanar). Reddy and Yeddyyurappa are pioneers of Operation Lotus 2008. That was when Reddy supplied most of the funds to buy MLAs, and BSY was made and stabilized as CM. Reddy was in jail for his crimes, left BJP, and now invited back.  (More on Reddy family later.)  

Haryana (1967) marked the first phase of the India’s major, to and fro, frequent defections of elected legislators, notorious as Aya ram gaya ram phenomenon, that led to anti-defection law of 1985 by Rajiv Gandhi regime that feared poaching of its MPs.

BJP’s Vajpayee was a 13-day PM in 1996 as he was installed, by President Shankar Dayal Sharma, a Congressman, even without a majority, and he could not face the House and resigned before voting on a confidence motion. BJP for various reasons could not mobilize support.

But Modi-Amit shah emulated, not Vajpayee, but Aya Ram Gaya Ram culture that began in Haryana, and Operation Lotus of Karnataka. Now again Ram is reduced into a vote-catching device.

The anti-defection law was variously circumvented. Most novel way is Operation Lotus : It was to the ‘credit’ of Modi-led BJP, using money power and state power, to top the list in engineering defections and perfecting it into an opportunistic poaching game:  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that “BJP has spent Rs 6,500 crore [65 billion] rupees on buying 277 MLAs, across India”.  Election Bonds helped.  

Defections are engineered by Modi-Shah duo using all the dirty tricks (persuade, buy, kidnap, partying-wining in Hotels and Resorts, often outside the relevant state, bullying, CBI-ED raids, bailing out from corruption and criminal cases, (now notorious as washing powder Nirma of BJP brand) toppling governments.).

It was Yeddyurappa who in 2008 pioneered the Operation Kamala  (OperationLotus, the election symbol of BJP), together with Gali Janardhana Reddy, the mining baron of Bellary fiefdom, imprisoned for his corruption and illegalities in iron ore mining and exports, worth thousands of crores of rupees.  

 See this descriptive report by the leading daily Deccan Herald of Karnataka:   

“ Operation Kamala (or Operation Lotus) was the name given to the infamous, but successful, attempt of the BJP to engineer the defection of opposition legislators to ensure stability of the BS Yeddyurappa government in 2008. BJP is said to be attempting Operation Kamala 2.0 currently  (in 2019), , this time to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

“ In the assembly polls of May 2008, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 110 seats, three short of simple majority. Yeddyurappa took oath as chief minister with the support of six independents to form the first BJP government in south India. But to further ensure the government’s stability, BJP poached seven MLAs — three from Congress, four from JD(S) — luring them with money and power, in an operation allegedly financed by the mining baron and former BJP minister Janardhan Reddy of Bellary. In the by-polls, the BJP won five, and this took BJP’s tally to 115 in the 224-member assembly.”

What is BJP’s strategy (in 2019)? The Congress-JD(S) coalition has 117 legislators, BJP 104. BJP will have to get at least 13 MLAs from the ruling alliance to resign from the House so as to bring down the strength of the House, allowing the saffron party to stake claim to form the government. The defecting MLAs cannot join BJP straightaway as then they would attract disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law. But they can do so later and face by-polls as BJP candidates. The plan is to have these by-polls held along with the Lok Sabha polls, by which BJP expects to gain an advantage.”

(deccanherald.com, 5 January 2019.

https://www.deccanherald.com/india/karnataka/dh-deciphers-what-operation-713124.html)

The rates quoted were Rs 50 crore for each MLA plus ministerial berths etc.

On 31 March 2021, the bench of Justice D’Cunha refused to quash the FIR against the sitting CM BSY in a case nicknamed Operation Kamala case.

 This  “game of poaching” legislators of other parties, by playing all dirty tricks, notorious as Operation Lotus, is one of the main ways the BJP is adopting everywhere. The poaching game was extended by BJP to Goa, and that is a notorious story.

But the ‘godi media’ (the lap dog) ascribes it all to Modi-charisma!

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“Operation Dakshin” of the BJP is “nationalisation of Operation Kamala,”  said JDS

JDS itself was a victim of BJP’s Operation Lotus. However the two parties clinched an unholy alliance during the current Loksabha polls. Such is the state of affairs in India, which Modi called the “mother of democracy”.

It is instructive to see how BJP worked the Operation according toKumara Swamy, now BJP’s NDA ally.

“ Taunting the BJP by asking the party to make former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa “the brand ambassador of Operation Kamala”, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on  July 04, 2022  said that “Operation Dakshin” of the BJP is “nationalisation of Operation Kamala” to gain entry to the South (Dakshin) .

“ In a series of tweets addressed at BJP general secretary C.T. Ravi, he said, “Operation Dakshin is an effort to inject poison into a peaceful society. Does this mean using religion, god, caste, language, tradition, food and businesses to create communal dissent? After Karnataka, the focus is on South India?”

“ It meant that after Karnataka, “extending fake patriotism through horse trading and buying MLAs in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.”

He further said, “Earlier it was Congress-free Bharath. Now dynasty-free Bharath. Later, Opposition-free Bharath. Further, making India free of democracy... Isn’t this your grand plan?”

Arguing that regional parties are strong in South, he said the BJP was unable to break into their stronghold. “Through Operation Kamala, you came to power in Karnataka. Your efforts failed in other States. So you are now singing the tune of dynasty-free Bharath. Tell the truth.” He made a list of “dynasts” in BJP Karnataka, including Mr. Yediyurappa and his children.

( The Hindu, Bengaluru,  July 04, 2022)

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/is-it-nationalisation-of-operation-kamala-hdk/article65600251.ece

Having said all that, JDS now for Loksabha colluded with BJP, fearing it would otherwise be washed out. The name-sake “secular”party preferred to ally with BJP at a time it is resorting to worst, brazen and heinous forms of Hindutva communal politics.

Karnataka under BJP was already a major labs of Hindutva, more so in recent years, latest under an opportunist CM Basavaraj Bommai. Bommai is the son former CM SR Bommai, a secular (MN) Royist who became a leader of Janata Dal, famous for the Bommai judgment on Article 356. The junior Bommai belatedly defected to the saffron camp. He is like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s rabid Hindutva CM, who was earlier a secular congress man, in a new incarnation.      

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Eshwarappa wants to bring out BJP “ from the clutches of Yediyurappa and his two sons.”  

Yediyurappa son BY Vijayendra

(ANI Photo).BJP leader BS Yediyurappa (BSY) congratulates son BY Vijayendra Yediyurappa, after he was appointed as the party president for Karnataka, in Bengaluru. Thus the pioneer of Operation Lotus is rewarded. But Eshwarappa, former Deputy CM of BSY,  fights to “bring out the BJP  from the clutches of   the BSY family” .  

Modi’s charisma, his struggle against dynasties, and against corruption, projected in the media, are sheer myths. In fact they proved to be a myth not just in south, but elsewhere too like in Delhi, Punjab. 

Modi in his Newsweek (April 10, 2024) interview said: “We are a democracy, not only because our Constitution says so, but also because it is in our genes. India is the mother of democracy..” We pointed out: But Modi should know genes are related to heredity, and hereditary ruling class families are inseparable from that!

Even as Modi harped on hereditary politics of others, the Eshwarappa episode broke out in Karnataka. Modi’s “charisma”  and his claims are not believed by his own partymen; Eshwarappa is only one of them:

 BSY being courted together with his two sons encouragedKS Eshwarappa to demand that his son to be given the party ticket like BSY’s son, but was denied. A former karnataka chief of BJP and  Dy CM, Eshwarappa quit the party, and is challenging the favored family in current Loksabha elections as an independent candidate.

He was suspended  on April 22: BJP “expelled’ him for six years, for contesting as an independent, against Raghavendra, BSY’s son. Unhappy over his son being denied a Lok Sabha ticket from Haveri, he blamed the BSY family and said: 

“ My intention is similar to that of Modi. Modi says he is fighting against family politics of Congress’ Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at the centre, while my (Eshwarappa) efforts are towards bringing out the party from the clutches of father Yediyurappa and his two sons.”  

Both sides know Modi’s claims and genuine efforts are fake. He is confident he would win as an Independent , and would then  go back to the party. He contests the BSY  family, but seeks to emulate Yeddyurappa, who was rewarded. Election results would show how it turns out. 

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Modi claims to fight Dynastic politics, and family-owned parties, but allies with JDS

Modi Devegowda

Modi is flanked by former minister Revanna, elder son (left), and former CM Kumara Swamy, younger son.  Modi taunted them as  a party of “ father-sons 3G family”  but courted them all. Two grandsons  are also groomed as leaders. At least ten members in the family, including Kumara Swamy’s wife and other women, have a history as legislators, ministers etc. BJP now accommodated Gowda’s son-in-law, Dr. CN Manjunatha, to contest on BJP ticket from Bengaluru rural.  It is a typical “family-owned party”, in Modi’s words, and Modi-led BJP is their ally, also in current elections, after a break-up. 

PM Modi on Feb 5, 2024 said in Lok Sabha : “Which dynastic politics do we talk about? If more than one person in a family, on their own strength and with the support of public, makes progress in the political field, we have never called it dynastic politics. We call it dynastic politics when a party is run by a family, when the party prioritises members of a family, when family members take all the important decisions of the party,” the Prime Minister said. (timesofindia.com, Feb 5, 2024)

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/we-call-it-dynastic-politics-when-pm-modis-big-attack-on-parties-run-by-families/articleshow/107431615.cms

Even as phase 1 (out of 7 in all) of Lok sabha polls was about to begin, the (HT) hindustantimes.com, Apr 10, 2024, reported, for instance:  Thus far, 87 of the 424 candidates named by the BJP are from political families as against 65 of the 250 named by the Congress…The list includes some recognizable scions of political families..” That is how Modi-led BJP deals with dynastic politics.

Modi speaks of ‘3G 4G and 5G’, and clarifies he means, not the Mobile phones, but  political dynasties of  3-4-5 generations. Deve Gowda’s  exactly is one such dynasty, and fits the above definition by Modi.

 Despite claims of ‘400 plus’ seats, for public consumption, Modi-led BJP  has its own doubts, and so is out to woo any dynasty that may help BJP. Siddarmaiah quit JDS only because it is “ family-owned” patty in which he can never become No.1.

Deve Gowda’s JDS party, ridiculed by Modi as ‘father-son 3G  party” was wooed back into NDA and restored with its Vokkaliga fiefdom in Southern Karnataka.That would be part of the Modi empire, which will last until 2047: that is what Modi Guarantee tells us.   

Deve Gowda and his son Kumara swamy, both CMs for some years, had faced established corruption charges related to Janthakal iron-ore mining, Vishwa bharati Housing and other land scams  etc.

 But Modi who claims to fight Bhrashtachar wooes the JDS; S stands for “Secular.”

We do not imply that other parties are better; they are all of a piece. They hop from one party to another and BJP welcomes the most corrupt also with open arms. In fact, Congress indulged in all this in its heyday.   

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BJP courts the family of Gali Janardhana Reddy, most corrupt mining baron of his “Bellary empire”

Amit Shah Gali Janardhana Reddy 1

Amit Shah with billionnaire Gali Janardhana Reddy, karnataka’s iron-ore mining baron, who is the prime accused in a slew of (at least nine) CBI cases of illegal mining and corruption dating back to the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government of 2008-2013. (X/@GaliJanardhanar). He was the kingpin in a Rs. 16,085 crore scam that took place between 2006 and 2010, who spent years in jail. Reddy made a return to the BJP in late March, by merging his Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha (KRPP) party with the BJP, just  ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

This is a typical story that shows BJP in its true light.

The notorious, billionaire Reddy brothers of mining industry, were all former ministers and legislators, Gali Janardhana reddy, Somasekhar reddy, Karunakar Reddy etc, apart from their once page servant who later became a minister,B Sri Ramulu, who together control Bellary empire as it was called.

It is Reddy who called the shots: He had quit the BJP to float the KRPP, ahead of the last Assembly elections, which he and 45 others from his party contested. He won the Gangavathi seat, defeating Modi-led BJP and the Congress. His party had secured 2.48 lakh votes across the state, mainly in the Ballari, Koppal and Bagalkot districts. So Modi-Shah duo weaned him back, washing off all his crimes. He was accused of buying over judges too, and was caught in the act.     

Reddy brothers sustained and funded Sushma Swaraj’s (unsuccessful) contest from Bellary Loksabha constituency, part of Reddy brothers’ fiefdom, against Sonia Gandhi.

“ After this, their fortunes changed. Under the patronage of the late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, the Reddy brothers gained political prominence — in 1999, they helmed Swaraj’s high-decibel campaign against then Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

It was Redy’s clout that, among other things, helped BJP , which won 25 of Karnataka’s 28 Loksabha seats in the 2019 general election. After the exit of Reddy and such other families,  BJP lost the 2023 election to the state’s 224-member assembly and was reduced to 65 seats.

After illegal mining allegations flew in 2011, Swaraj, like many others in her party, distanced herself from the trio.Now Amit shah weaned them back. He was once a  king maker in BJP Karnartaka. Now he is back to play a similar role. 

The Lokayukta report had indicted (the then BJP Minister) Janardhan Reddy, Yediyurappa, several other politicians and as many as 787 government officers. The report led to a CBI probe and in 2011. Reddy was arrested (initially during 2011-15, then bailed out) by the central agency on the charge that his company, Obulapuram Mining Corporation conducted illegal mining in a reserve forest in Andhra Pradesh bordering Ballari.

Ballari town, a most backward district, was catapulted to fame : First was in 1999, when  Sonia Gandhi contested from this Lok Sabha seat and won defeating BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, both outsiders.  Second, when the Lokayukta report, investigating illegal mining in the district, named Gali Janardhan Reddy, a BJP MLA, as the kingpin in a Rs. 16,085 crore scam that took place between 2006 and 2010.

Reporting Reddy’s return to BJP, theprint.in, 29 March, 2024, reported, with this apt title: 

 Money, might & grip on Ballari — why BJP brought back Janardhana Reddy, ‘kingpin’ of mining scam  

“ When he was snapping ties with the BJP in December 2022, a disgruntled Gali Janardhana Reddy said about the CBI raid on his family in 2018: “This humiliation happening despite the BJP being in power it the state and at the Centre was the last straw. ”

Fifteen months later, this rancour appears forgotten. Reddy, the MLA from Gangavathi, has now merged his Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha (KRPP) with the BJP. ..He had returned home to support Narendra Modi’s bid to become the prime minister for a third term “in the interest of the nation”. 

“Synonymous with money and might, Reddy brings key strength to the party even though he’s not allowed back into his home district of Ballari — an embargo placed on him by the Supreme Court while granting him bail in an illegal iron ore mining case in 2015… Ballari, one of the state’s most back backward regions, is where the Congress won all five assembly seats in the 2023 assembly polls. ”

( see for more on Reddy:  https://theprint.in/politics/money-might-grip-on-ballari-why-bjp-brought-back-janardhana-reddy-kingpin-of-mining-scam/2018999/)

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BJP had a slice of the Jarkiholi family of Gokak and engineered mass defections from Congress

Jarkiholi Brothers of Gokak town

.Jarkiholi Brothers of Gokak town. People see a powerful mafia there. BJP split them and engineered mass defections from Congress. (Courtesy: Bangalore Mirror, Mar 14, 2018)

BJP weaned away some among the family and toppled Congress government.  Former Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, on  June 18, 2021 said: “We (17 MLAs) have joined BJP only for the sake of Home Minister Amit Shah and Yediyurappa… it is impossible to replace Yediyurappa from the CM’s post for the next two years” 

(newindianexpress.com, 18 Jun 2021)

Ramesh Jarkiholi organized 14 other Congress MLAs to resign their posts. He was one of the 15 MLAs from Congress and 2 from JD(S) who resigned in July 2019, bringing down the HDK Congress-JD(S) coalition and allowing B.S. Yeddyurappa (BSY) to return to power.

The Times group, cited above, reported:

”In a rare political scenario, four  brothers from a family are set to contest 2018 polls. Probably, no other part of the country will have such an electoral battle…Jarkiholi brothers have been ‘ruling’ Belagavi district for nearly two decades now.”

“A family of sugar barons, the sahukars have been running a fiefdom that stretches across political divides, defying attempts to unseat them from within their respective parties and without, reported indianexpress.com, May 3, 2023. Jarkiholi brothers represent three neighbouring constituencies located at the centre of Karnataka’s largest district, Belgaum.”

Jarkiholi family of Gokak is courted by BJP as well as Congress, to woo Valmiki -Nayak ST vote banks. It has at least 5 legislators and former Ministers, with many criminal cases.  The family controls Gokak fiefdom for the last 25 years.

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Amit Shah cultivates Murugesh Nirani, who faces a case with serious allegations of corruption, land grab,financial impropriety and forgery

Amit Shah welcomed by Murugesh R Nirani

Amit Shah welcomed by Murugesh R Nirani, Minister of Large and Medium Industries of Karnataka, who owns 10 sugar factories in Karnataka.  Shah visited Nirani in 2021. 

In January 2021, a few days after he was inducted into the state Cabinet, Nirani had a special guest, Amit Shah, at a function marking the expansion of his 10 sugar factories and ethanol plant in Bagalkot. Nirani presented Shah a large silver mace, and Shah praised him for his services as an industrialist.  

“ As of 2021, over 120,000 farmers benefit from the infrastructure created by the MRN group and over 72,000 people are employed by the MRN Group. MRN group is also one of the largest producers of ethanol in India,” says a wikipedia article. It indicates Nirani empire Amit shah cultivated. Young Nirani was in RSS, and later degenerated.

“ Serious allegations of corruption and financial impropriety as well as conflict of interest have come back to haunt Murugesh Nirani,” says a report. (thewire.in, 16/Aug/2021). That was what draws the two together.

The report said:

“ a local court in Bengaluru heard arguments for a fresh probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) into allegations against Nirani along with former Karnataka CM BSY and two others on charges of forging an industrialist’s signature and cheating him of a 26-acre government plot allotted to him for a construction project.

“ The complainant has alleged that the actions of the four accused qualify as corruption, forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy, under Sections 418, 465, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 13(1)c and 13(1)(d)(ii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.”

The complainant was an industrialist, Alam Pasha, Bengaluru-based founder of realty company Pash Space International Private Limited, had in April 2011 lodged a complaint against Nirani, BSY and two bureaucrats – former Karnataka principal secretary V.P. Baligar and Shivaswamy, former managing director of the Karnataka Udyoga Mitra, the state’s nodal agency for investment. Nirani was Karnataka’s industries minister at the time.

https://thewire.in/government/karnataka-bjp-murugesh-nirani-forgery-conflict-of-interest

“Nirani, who visited Delhi about a fortnight ago and termed his visit ‘successful’, reiterated his support to Yediyurappa,” reported business-standard.com.

Amidst the power tussle within the BJP – Nirani was inducted as minister by B S Yediyurappa in January, during his time as CM – veteran party leader K S Eshwarappa recently named the sugar baron as a potential CM candidate.

***                       ***

BJP is a mere substitute, not an alternative to other corrupt parties

BJP, increasingly ‘congressized’ more than Congress, is no different. In fact, they are all ‘options,’ Team-A  Team-B, and Team-C etc, for the ruling classes – to loot people and all resources. So far as people are concerned, they are mere substitutes but not alternatives.  

BJP is not invincible as projected. Right in the capital Delhi Modi-led BJP was trounced thrice and AAP was elected. Of course AAP had to pay for this: Several Ministers, including the CM, have been imprisoned, sabotaging their election campaign. Using all central agencies, from CBI ED IT to Governors, and manipulating the judiciary, Modi-Shah duo is now ‘struggling’ to retain power, by most unscrupulous ways.

Same is the case with the CM of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren, now in prison, denied bail. The two CMs have to face polls with this handicap. Even if they later get bail, that would be too late. It is an even playing field for the non-BJP parties.

The BJP also benefited by the notorious Election Bonds for several years, toppling and manipulating governments, parties and leaders with the billions of rupees they got. The Supreme Court declared the Bonds as unconstitutional, but BJP is undeterred.   Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, who said she for herself has no financial means or social chemistry to contest elections, said the BJP government is thinking of how to revive Election Bonds, after the elections are over.

Thus we conclude : BJP is neither distinct, nor invincible. Modi’s charisma is more a a godi media construct than real.

(Next part will likewise review BJP in other southern states, AP and Tamilnadu.)   

***                         ***

(Ramakrishnan is a political observer who contributed to countercurrents.org)

***                       ***

Appendix:

For more on the subject, read earlier parts of the series:

The ruling classes and their parties are out to sustain,  though in vain, the dubious democratic credentials of the  system. Quite often even Modi and BJP seek to invoke Ambedkar only to embellish and laud to the skies the so-called biggest democracy India has, which in fact is a Constitutional autocracy, and an ornamental parliamentary democracy, as seen in Part-1 and 2 of this article, respectively. 

Modi’s BJP has in practice reduced it all into a sort of Presidential election. The call for a ‘double-engine sarkar’ is a camouflage for that. Modi and BJP are  pitting his name not only for an Assembly seat, but for a corporator’s seat in Metropolitan cities of India. Covering it up,  Modi harps on ‘hereditary parties’ controlling the polity as their family property. It is in fact a diversionary tactic.

Indian democracy is anything but democratic for so many reasons, despite all such claims and vows, which we discussed in Part-1 of this article. 

See Part-1 here:

India’s is a ‘constitutional autocracy’ : Hereditary ruling classes are inherent in India, said Ambedkar (17/04/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/indias-is-a-constitutional-autocracy-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-india-said-ambedkar

India has merely a formal democracy founded on semi-feudal, and semi-colonial foundations, experience of decades tells us.

 “There is a great need of someone with sufficient courage to tell Indians – beware of Parliamentary Democracy, it is not the best product, as it appeared to be,” said Ambedkar, in 1943. 

See in Part-2 here:

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/beware-of-parliamentary-democracy-warned-ambedkar-and-added-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-it

Part-3 Hypocrisy on dynastic politics : Modi’s BJP has its own political families

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/hypocrisy-on-dynastic-politics-modis-bjp-has-its-own-political-families

This phenomenon of a subservient EC also had its roots in the past. There was a brief interlude with TN Seshan as the CEC. But it took not much time to circumvent hurdles. Now few create any hurdles to Modi regime.  

The Election Commission has been a pliant and tainted machinery, more so in Modi regime. EAS Sarma, former Secretary of Union Govt, exposed in a series of letters:

(see for eg: Election Commission’s assurance to conduct “One Nation, One Election” casts doubts about its independence.

https://countercurrents.org/2023/09/election-commissions-assurance-to-conduct-one-nation-one-election-casts-doubts-about-its-independence

The EC winks even as Modi and BJP brazenly exploit religion, god, and all primordial instincts, he wrote.

Democracy is not meant to be a one day affair, as it is in India, the day polling takes place. It is missing in daily life, political, economic, or cultural.

Electoral democracy in India is anything but democratic: India never had a rule by majority. Many countries insist a mandate of at least 50 percent vote; if necessary they hold a run-off repoll. Some countries have the Right to Recall, wherein people can also unseat a government under certain conditions; India does not have this democratic feature.

Modi, who himself has no mandate of 50 percent vote, guarantees! Modi regime is accused of running an autocracy, in the form of an undeclared Emergency. It was in fact introduced by Indira Gandhi after her Emergency of 1975-76 boomeranged.  She later turned to an undeclared Emergency, perfected by Modi.

There is lot of anxiety about the future of the Constitution if BJP is back in power.

What’s the present state? See DV Rao’s assessment of India’s  Indian Constitutional System, as a Constitutional autocracy, in this article:

https://countercurrents.org/2021/01/dv-rao-on-constitutional-system/)

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