INSIDE STORY OF THE BJP-JDS NEGOTIATIONS

If there has been anything more intellectually inadequate than the recent politics in Karnataka, then it has been the media coverage of it. Especially in the mainstream English media. Rarely rising above “he-said, she-said”, mind-reading, or plain speculation, a blow-by-blow first-person inside account of the jostling and backroom manoueuvring has been missing. The king makers, the powerbrokers, the middlemen have all been absent from the narrative.

Result: one side has been painted like angels betrayed, the other as devils personified.

One of the few exceptions is an interview by the television journalist B.S. SATYA with former state public prosecutor S. DORE RAJU, which aired on Udaya TV on Thursday. Dore Raju, a lawyer close to the sangh parivar who, by his own admission, has filed more than 10,000 affidavits for virtually every BJP leader of note, played a key role in the negotiations with the JDS, which resulted first in the formation of the H.D. Kumaraswamy government and then in the shortlived B.S. Yediyurappa formulation.

The interview, more than anything else, reveals how completely ideology has vanished from a grandstanding party like the BJP; how politics has become only about intrigue, position and money at the hands of the the backroom boys of the JDS; how, despite all its public posturings and protestations, the RSS plays a active role in the political decision-making process of the BJP; and how the State has been brought to its knees by “suitcase politics” in the name of the people.

***

HOW THE JDS-BJP STRUCK UP A FRIENDSHIP

“In the May 2004 elections, the BJP got 79 seats, the Congress got 64 and the JDS 58. As a longstanding BJP member who had been close to the sangh parivar since 1988, having been associated with the Jan Sangh, RSS and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, I privately wondered if in this situation there was a chance for the BJP to form a government.

T. Venkatesh, the editor and proprietor of the evening daily Ee Sanje was a professional friend of mine. I had handled many of his cases. Probably because he also used to run a film magazine called Aragini, H.D. Kumaraswamy, who was also a film producer, used to come to Venkatesh’s office every day. It was there I struck up an acquaintance with Kumaraswamy.

“The BJP leader Ananth Kumar was aware of my interactions with Kumaraswamy. Arun Jaitely was the BJP secretary in charge of Karnataka. One day, Ananth Kumar called me and asked me to talk to Kumaraswamy and see if there was any possibility of the BJP and the JDS striking up a relationship.

“This happened even before Dharam Singh had formed a government in alliance with the JDS.

“I talked to Venkatesh. The meeting took place at Venkatesh’s house one day: Ananth Kumar, Kumaraswamy, Venkatesh and I were present. Because Venkatesh’s family members were around, we held the meeting on the first or second floor. I don’t know if H.D. Deve Gowda knew about what was happening. But it was clear that with so many seniors in the Congress, Dharam Singh, Mallikarjun Kharge, et al, Kumaraswamy, who was just an MLA, realised that it was too early to realise his chief ministerial ambitions. Thus Dharam Singh came to power, with the JDS in coalition, but Kumaraswamy was already talking to us.”

HOW SHOBHA KARANDLAJE CALLS THE SHOTS

“After the Congress-JDS government had been in power for several months, I received a call from Kumaraswamy. He was in Tirupati. He asked if a meeting with the BJP could be arranged again.

“I spoke to Ananth Kumar. He said, ‘See if you can.’ There was a reason for this visible disinterest on his part. Because, by this time, there had been a clear division of duties in the BJP. Ananth Kumar had been put in charge of national affairs, and B.S. Yediyurappa was in charge of the State.

“But I didn’t know Yediyurappa personally and didn’t have access. As a state secretary of the BJP, I had been in charge of Basavangudi assembly constituency during the May 2004 elections and had met Shobha Karandlaje, an MLC known to be close to Yediyurappa. I asked her if a meeting could be arranged between Yediyurappa and Kumaraswamy. She said she would get back to me.”

WHERE THE DECISIVE MEETING TOOK PLACE

“The meeting took place early one morning, at around 7.30, at Chickpet MLA Zameer Ahmed‘s guest house in Sadashivanagar. There were four from the JDS: Kumaraswamy, Nagamangala MLA N. Cheluvaraya Swamy, Magadi MLA H.C. Balakrishna and graduates constituency MLC Puttanna. On the BJP side, there were Ananth Kumar, Yediyurappa, Jagadish Shettar, and myself.

“Because the Congress-JDS coalition was still on, we did not want word to leak out of the meeting. So we entered the guest house through the back door. It was at this meeting that it was decided to form a BJP-JDS government. There was even talk at this meeting of how the chairmanship of the boards and corporation should be split. The BJP with more MLAs obviously wanted a large share of the boards and corporations.

“Yediyurappa even told Kumaraswamy after this meeting that since all the meetings between the two sides so far had taken place in houses belonging to the JDS camp followers, he should come to his house next!

“But by this time, the intelligence department seemed to have gathered that something was on. An assistant commissioner of police called K.N.K. Reddy asked me as did a lady officer. But I was cagey and did not reveal much.”

HOW KUMARASWAMY MADE SURE HE BECAME CM FIRST

“We next met at Venkatesh’s house. Kumaraswamy came after the BJP side had already assembled. He clearly said at this meeting that he wanted to be chief minister first and that Yediyurappa should be CM after him. Yediyurappa disagreed. After all, the BJP had more seats than the JDS. But Kumaraswamy stuck to his guns.

“In fact, Cheluvaraya Swamy and Balakrishna, who were present, mildly threatened me—‘dhamki haakudru‘—to make sure that Kumaraswamy got the first shot! Eventually Ananth Kumar, Yediyurappa and Shettar agreed. It now boiled down to the portfolios.

“The JDS was to get 16 portfolios and the BJP 18. The JDS wanted to take up the portfolios held by the Congress in the Dharam Singh regime, but Kumaraswamy was insistent that the power, irrigation and public works departments be with the JDS.

“These portfolios had been held by H.D. Revanna in the Congress-JDS coalition. I don’t know if Kumaraswamy was already sure if Revanna would join the JDS-BJP coalition, but he was sure that the portfolios should stay with the JDS in the new coalition. By now some 10-15 meetings had taken place between the two sides. I don’t know if Deve Gowda was in the loop, but Kumaraswamy was very confident of pulling it off and we were talking to him.

“Eventually, somebody, I don’t know who, pulled out a small spiral bound notebook from his shirt pocket and noted down which party would get which ministry as per the negotiations. One copy was given to the BJP, another copy to the JDS. There was no formal agreement beyond this.”

HOW KUMARASWAMY LONGED FOR AN EXTENSION

“Once the JDS-BJP coalition government was formed and the two sides started tasting power, mutual distrust and suspicion crept in. Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa barely spoke to each other. They stopped meeting each other. There was a communication gap after the two sides had spoken of a 20-year coalition.

“As the 20-month period veered to a close, Kumaraswamy called me at least two or three times asking me to convey to Yediyurappa that he would like a 3-month extension beyond the original 20 months. He so desperately wanted it to last just a bit longer that he even asked if he could stay for one extra month. But the BJP national leadership was very clear that there would be no going back on the previously agreed arrangement in any form.”

HOW STATE BJP WAS READY TO MEET THE JDS CONDITIONS

“When the BJP pulled out of the government resulting in the imposition of President’s rule, Kumaraswamy called again. Backroom negotiations had been going on even when the BJP had kicked off his yatra to drive home the JDS betrayal. This time we met at a forest guest house around 11.30 at night. Yediyurappa was there. Kumaraswamy said he was once again ready to give support. Later we met at Cheluvaraya Swamy’s residence.

“By now the “conditions” had become the contentious issue. There were so many of them, 12 sometimes, 10 sometimes, 8 some other time, it is difficult to remember. But there were conditions, which I helped give a legal framework, and surely the issue about the mines and geology, and housing and urban development ministries staying with JDS was one of them.

“The state BJP leaders agreed to the conditions, but the BJP national leadership again put its foot down and said nothing doing. Eventually, the renegotiations broke up. Was there an exchange of suitcases? I do not know, I did not see it. Did Ananth Kumar want the renegotiations to fail? No. He never said no; he was involved in many things at various stages.”

HOW RSS PLAYS AN ACTIVE ROLE IN BJP’S POLITICS

“Both during the first phase of negotiations and the second, a senior member of the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh, a man whose name or face does not appear in the media, was in the know of things.

“We would directly report to him at each stage of the negotiations, and often there were things that the RSS man knew about what was happening that Yediyurappa himself did not know.”

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17 Responses to “INSIDE STORY OF THE BJP-JDS NEGOTIATIONS”

  1. Andy Says:

    Super story..great service by churumuri. The interview strips “leaders” apart and presents the real picture of they really are.

  2. tarlesubba Says:

    mantrad kinta uguLu jaasti anda haage, article-alli iro vishyakinta kinta editorial-alli iro conclusions jaasti.

    editorial: how the State has been brought to its knees by “suitcase politics” in the name of the people.
    article: Was there an exchange of suitcases? I do not know, I did not see it.

    editorial:despite all its public posturings and protestations, the RSS plays a active role in the political decision-making process of the BJP.
    article: “Both during the first phase of negotiations and the second, a senior member of the Rashtriya Swamyamsevak Sangh, a man whose name or face does not appear in the media, was in the know of things.
    “We would directly report to him at each stage of the negotiations, and often there were things that the RSS man knew about what was happening that Yediyurappa himself did not know.”

    the greater scandal is ofcourse the stories that you have chosen not to carry during these days.

    idella churumuri-ne alla.

  3. Balaji Says:

    And which part of this story shows the BJP in a bad light? That they have channels of communication open with Kumaraswamy? That Ananth Kumar and Yeddyurappa have worked together? That the BJP national leadership refused to accede to wanton demands from the JDS? That RSS functionary was invisible and just got to know and not decide?

  4. Faldo Says:

    Yes this article seems to be a case of more smoke than fire.

  5. E Raviraja Gowda T V Says:

    sanje paper thara neevooo gaaaliyalli gundu hodilikke shuru maadidra?

  6. prasad Says:

    Another Tehalka like talk. Where was this all these days? ‘Belive it or not’ –Mushraf gave BJP one Million $ to accept the offer to form the Govt. Bush gave Gowda 2 million$ to accept the offer and later drop BJP! This is what Clinton told me!!

  7. Harry Says:

    Is giving the obvious details of the meeting of the two parties (JDS and BJP) to form govt, an out of the box story for churumuri?

    We expect churumuri to give us something special, not the obvious one. Even an idiot would know that two parties would have had secret meetings before tieing the knot.

    Except for Doreraju’s service as a mediator, this article does not give any interesting details of the inside story of the BJP-JDS negotiation. The article surely evokes curiosity, but miserably fails to fulfil it.

  8. dr ramesh Says:

    full different aagide. introduction scene, hero entry , song , romance.
    second half innu thrill. climax yaaru guess maadakke aaglilla.
    PARTY WITH A DIFFERENCE — BJP IS REALLY DIFFERENT.

  9. King of Hill Says:

    Sure chaddi paksha supporters on the net would vote out JD(S) any day or night to make again and again Chaddiyurappa CM. But alas the reality is completly different. People do not give a hoot to their opinion.

  10. Aatmasakshi Says:

    I saw the Dorairaju interview “live” on television before reading churumuri’s paraphrased text. It did not make comfortable viewing. Dorairaju himself seemed distinctly uncomfortable with many of the questions that he would take several seconds to start answering them. He seemed to be holding back a great many details with great effort.

    A lawyer who is a middleman may not be the most credible source but if we cannot trust the words of someone who was in the thick of things, who are we to trust? Are we to trust people who believe that BJP is god’s gift to mankind, and woe unto those who believe otherwise? Or are we to trust people who coolly assume that whatever has happened is not only normal but natural and necessary?

    Dorairaju’s response to the “suitcase” question was a moment of pure television. A classic lawyer’s response. He did not say no suitcases were exchanged. He only said that he did not “see” it being exchanged. We can read that whichever way we like, depending on our preferred ideology.

    Churumuri has not recounted Dorairaju’s full response on the “conditions”. I seemed to hear him say clearly that a “retired chief justice” drafted them and that he, Dorairaju, gave it final shape. What is churumuri’s agenda in not revealing the first part of the dialogue? Who is this “retired chief justice”? And who is this RSS man whose name and face doesn’t appear?

    It is easy to cling onto our fantasies of the BJP, and maybe we are entitled to. But to see someone who has worked for the BJP revealing all this is on TV is mighty instructive of how our politics is being conducted. If we cannot ask who these unelected people are who are running our lives while we have no qualms in asking similar questions about Sonia Gandhi, who at least is an elected MP, we only reveal ourselves.

  11. tarlesubba Says:

    AS, thanks for the context.

    For your reference….

    Polls, Apart
    Damn votes, they call all the shots anyway
    Saba Naqvi Bhaumik
    Outlook India Oct 22, 2007

    http://203.200.89.230/full.asp?fodname=20071022&fname=Left+Cong+(F)&sid=2

    Power Without Accountability
    The men who make the decisions, without ever being elected

    Congress
    * Manmohan Singh: The only PM who’s never been elected to the Lok Sabha
    * Of the 11 general secretaries, only Rahul Gandhi is an LS MP
    * Congress Working Committee: Of its 23 members, only six are LS MPs
    * Powerful non-elected leaders: Janardhan Dwivedi, Arjun Singh, Ahmed Patel

    The Left
    * General secretary Prakash Karat has never contested an election
    * The politburo has 17 members. No one is an LS MP although chief ministers are included in this body.
    * Central committee strength: 85. A majority are party workers.
    * Powerful non-elected leaders: Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat

    BJP
    * President Rajnath Singh fought and lost LS polls from Mirzapur in ’84. He is currently serving a second term in the RS.
    * Of its 9 vice-presidents, four are LS members.
    * Of the seven general secretaries, only two are members of the LS.
    * Powerful non-elected leaders: Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh

    Politics is the art of the possible, a parable that the leading parties of the Indian system have stretched to unimaginable lengths. One symptom is the way those at the helm, determining India’s destiny, do not need to go to the people and win a mandate.

    Of late, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has been in the news along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Two men whose postures have (once again) prematurely placed the nation at the edge of an electoral precipice. But were a general election to actually take place, neither would be in the running, as far as an election seat is considered.

    At the national headquarters of the main political parties, it is increasingly the non-playing players who run the show. The trend is most visible in the Congress. Members of the dynasty, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, are MPs. But leave aside the Nehru-Gandhis, all the decision-making party forums are stacked with leaders with no base of their own (see box). Indeed, the less the political value of the leader, the greater his “trustworthiness” for the first family. As a former party CM explained, “The only base that matters is proximity to Sonia Gandhi.”

    Even partymen holding key cabinet portfolios are spent forces, and/or members of the RS—Shivraj Patil in home, Arjun Singh in HRD, A.K. Antony in defence and, of course, the PM himself. The party’s highest decision-making body, the CWC, is no better considering the worthies who people it—Motilal Vora, R.K. Dhawan, Mohsina Kidwai. Sharper minds like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Kapil Sibal and S. Jaipal Reddy (who have all won elections) have no standing in the party structure.

    Coming to the Left, it has at least never claimed to have a structure determined by mass base. Indeed, the only election won by Comrade Karat was winning the JNU student union president’s hat, after which he became SFI president (1974-79). It is his intellectual positioning and organisational muscle that has seen him rise through the ranks to become the CPI(M) general secretary. Former party MP Nilotpal Basu is a staunch defender of a trend where the powerful politburo and central committee is dominated by individuals who don’t directly have to face up to the voter. “Yesterday, I was an MP. Today, I am an ordinary party worker. That is how the CPI(M) functions,” he says.

    Going to the Right, the BJP organisation too is stacked with RS members, though the percentage of elected representatives in key positions is higher vis-a-vis the others.But there will always be the RSS nominees to tip the scales. There’s also another reason why star speakers like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and even party president Rajnath Singh are in the upper house. Along with the late Pramod Mahajan, they had lobbied hard before the 2004 polls with then president Venkaiah Naidu to allow them to contest. But they were refused tickets because of internal machinations.

    The BJP is hamstrung by cloak-and-dagger manoeuvres, the Congress by the stifling authority of the dynasty, and the Communists by rigid ideology. Clearly, the great Indian democratic circus will continue to be run by individuals who do not need to sweat it out in an election.

  12. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Prasad,

    Nice one! I have been giving Devegowda several crores each time he opens his mouth! Osama gave DDG 200 crores to garner Muslim votes in Karnataka. Dorairaju is being paid by DDG to appear on this interview!

  13. Faldo Says:

    DB, the latest I heard was that DDG is refusing to pay DR as his ’12 conditions’ were not followed and the interview did not live up to expectations.

  14. Govindaraju Says:

    It is a big shame to say that Devegowda was the prime minister of this great india & his son was chief minister of the state.Both BJP & JDS are worst parties.The voetrs of karnatak should see that both these shameless people & BJP is routed out in karnataka into drain for ever & thay should not have any existence in future in the state.

  15. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Faldo,

    Yeah I can believe that! Now, there will be another interview with Dorairaju where he will claim that he actually helped DDG to draft the ’12 conditions’ to checkmate the BJP! He will also reveal that he is in fact the love child of Devegowda when in the good old days even DDG had the ‘balls’ to do an odd devegowda on a lady! The interview will reveal how DDG was manipulating Dorairaju all these days to get back at the BJP–a la Visha ‘Kanya’ style.

  16. tarlesubba Says:

    just to list a roster of events this week…
    #1. a bunch of people get killed in an extra-legal/constitional, no, extremist/terrorist retaliation to transgressions by lawyers and the intelligencia is unquestioningly silent.
    #2. there are relentless questions and penetrating probes on all aspects of hinduism, all sold as marks of progress, and yet the intelligencia is silent on the systematic violence of an owaisi and some random guy in bengal bringing the entire state to halt.
    #3. worst, well reasoned, critical articles on mohammed are retrenched from a magazine of the intellectuals all on a rebuttal of ‘how dare he say that about our prophet’. and the intelligencia is silent, worse, for all its positioning, it appears to submit to this kind of rhetoric.

    since the intelligencia has defined secularism, i am guessing it will also define the threshold of where this is all to end and where the limiting line to all this is. since the intelligenca does not believe in anyway carrying the masses along in this search for secularism, unlike the truth & conciliation missions of south africa, one hopes that they will atleast define what the threshold is. tell us openly if you believe that vote bank politics, the mind numbing violence and threats, and economical, social and “moral” pressures by extreme elements amongst the minorities really equates to submiting that such religions and their prophets are really holier and purer than the rest and subject to no review, analysis and criticism.

    there are a whole bunch of us “cheddis” who even when wholly opposed to a dattapeetha at budangiri, fail to comprehend that between varanasi and kanchi and many other points in between, mosques were built abutting and sometimes over exisiting temples with benign intentions. c’mon india may not be the biggest country in the world, but its cities/towns are big enough to accomodate a vishwanatha temple and gyanvyapi mosque on adjacent plots if not different parts of the city. why is it difficult to even accept this? why is it so important to whitewash all that barbarianism off our history? if a south africa can do it with its immediate history, why cant we? why are we so sold to eurocentrism and its views on heathens?

    if that is not the case, we would like to see some evidence to the contrary, and see some real secularism in action. if it is the case that the intelligencia considers that the only evil dogging india is hinduism then i am afraid the “cheddis” how ever crude they are, remain the only currently viable alternative to the lopsided social engineering that “thinking intelligencia” is upto and to which most people donot subscribe.

    i am looking to learn and for some serious, meaningful answers. GK once told replied to a similar query, ‘bcoz they are a minority’. i am still not convinced about it but still an important answer afaic. if your answer is to just limited calling me a “cheddi” or someother convenient theoretical label, dont waste your time and mine.

  17. Santosh Says:

    Be balanced when you publish even mischievous stories. Now some Deve Gowda’s foster son named after his illegimate(Benami) petrol bunk is spreading wild stories.

    Now the “muduka” has to bury himself and his grand old ideas…

    “I will rise from the ashes” wola…

    Ashes need to be immersed with the soil,water and air so that he can ensure the rest of Karnataka goes to sleep well.

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