Can Yeddyurappa walk alone in Karnataka politics?

By ZRG | Updated: Mar 14, 2013, 12:37 PM IST

Pankaj Sharma and Ajay Vaishnav/Zee Research Group

A disgruntled B S Yeddyurappa may take solace from the fact that he ensured Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poor performance in the recent Karnataka urban body polls. The maverick Lingayat leader has declared that he is now “eyeing to storm upcoming Assembly polls.”

But a closer scrutiny of the history of political rebels suggests that lone walkers rarely make it big in hurly-burly world of politics. In fact, odds are high against political dissenters especially coming from BJP’s stable.

Barring Babulal Marandi, heavyweight of yesteryears like Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati and Keshubhai Patel have all failed to set a distinct political course. While poll success eludes them, the splitting of votes creates a lasting damage to the prospects of the parent party.

The biggest case study is Kalyan Singh whose multiple entry-exits into the BJP has resulted in a void whose impact the saffron party is still bearing in Uttar Pradesh.

While the BJP has so far been able to contain the impact of Keshubhai Patel’s exit in Gujarat, his Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) could split Leuva Patel votes in future polls from the saffron fold. Launched on the eve of last year’s Gujarat Assembly polls, GPP could manage to win only two seats out of the total 182.

There are many other examples where rebels had to bite the dust. The only leader who has carved an independent political path after exiting from the BJP is Babulal Marandi. Jharkhand’s inaugural chief minister, Marandi left the party in 2006 and floated his Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik). The party currently has 11 members in the 82-seat Assembly.

In contrast, rebels from other parties have achieved greater political success. In some cases, like Mamata Banerjee and her All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), they have, in fact, dislodged the parent party and captured political space. Banerjee left the Congress in 1997 and floated AITC which became the main opposition to the three-decade long Communist rule in West Bengal. In 2011, Mamata’s AITC rewrote the history by ending the rule of Communists in the state. Last year, she was also named by the Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the world.

Likewise, Maratha leader Sharad Pawar left the Congress opposing Sonia Gandhi as president and formed his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Ever since, Pawar’s stature in politics has been going upwards. NCP is a key constituent of the United Progressive Alliance. If Delhi’s political grapevine is to be believed, Pawar could emerge as the dark horse in prime minister’s race post 2014 General Elections.

In Andhra Pradesh, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy after leaving the Congress has several times put the state leadership on the mat. Named after his father and late Congress chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his YSR Congress today has 17 members in the 295 seat state Assembly and two Lok Sabha members.

In Pondicherry, N Rangaswamy after resigning from the Congress launched, All India NR Congress and formed the government in alliance with AIADMK within three months of leaving the party.

While the jury is still out whether Yeddyurappa’s political fortunes will ebb or tide, the impact of the Y-factor in Karnataka politics will be felt for sure.