Y Satyanarayana

B.S. Yeddyurappa has finally resigned just ahead of the floor test in the Karnataka Vidhana Soudha. His resignation capped a four day-old drama from the time that the results were declared on Tuesday afternoon.

The BJP has not covered itself with glory in the way it has gone about Karnataka. It had lost the plot morally long before the denouement this afternoon. The audio clips of BJP leaders including Yeddyurappa which went viral, haven't helped the party's image, but if anything, have only dented it. Suddenly, the BJP President Amit Shah looks very different in public perception from the invincible strategist he seemed a few days ago. PM Modi looks more vulnerable than ever before. Most parties feel that if they come together, they stand a fighting chance of taking on the Modi-led BJP and its allies. The optics of it all places the BJP at a disadvantage when it comes to the 2019 context.

The party could have walked away from Karnataka, holding its head high, if it had been prepared to accept the fact that 78 and 38 add up to more than 104. The party in Karnataka and its national leadership were willing to stake their all for the sake of power. This overweening pride and overreaching ambition cost the BJP dearly. Not only did it lose the game of thrones, but lost the moral claim to power by trying to brazen it out.

Even if the Governor's decision to invite Yeddyurappa as the leader of single largest party could be argued both ways, giving him fifteen days to prove his majority seemed a stretch. It seemed as though the governor had given him enough time to engineer defections and manufacture a majority, as the opposition said.

Did the BJP disrespect the mandate of the people of Karnataka as Rahul Gandhi had alleged in his media meet after the resignation drama? In retrospect it appears so, though it could have save itself this disgrace by letting the Congress-JD(S) alliance come to power in the state. Who knows how long this combination would last? When the newly-minted Congress president now takes a combative stand and attacks PM Modi saying he had authorised horse-trading. This may sting the BJP leadership and cadre alike, but who can fault him on this?

All this does not portend well for the ruling party at the Centre. Its allies such as the Shiv Sena are already restless and others like Nitish would have kept an eye on the events in Karnataka.

One thing is clear--if the BJP failed to get a simple majority, the Congress teamed up with a party that won the fewest seats only to keep the BJP out. If the BJP can't, can it claim moral victory? When it comes to political morality, has Karnataka thrown up any winners?