Karnataka's Lone BSP MLA Expelled By Mayawati Formally Joins BJP, Says 'Development Driven Decision'
BSP's elephant has moved to the BJP in Karnataka hints former CM BS Yediyurappa as the party's lone MLA in the state joins the Lotus party.
In keeping with the trend, yet another 'defector' MLA in Karnataka joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday.
Lone MLA from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state and a minister in the former JD(S) - Congress coalition N Mahesh joined the BJP formally and was welcomed by all the three key figures of the party and state politics today - current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former CM B S Yediyurappa and state party president Nalin Kumar Kateel. The presence of all three does speak volumes about the importance of this 'defector' for the party and the political repercussions of this new entrant.
Mahesh had claimed to be an independent MLA after being expelled from BSP by party supremo Mayawati for abstaining from voting during the floor test that then brought down the coalition government. Mahesh had since then also been vocal about his leaning towards the BJP in the state, and his joining was seen as just a matter of time.
And given that this entry happens at a time when the political scenario of the state and the party has undergone a massive change, it sure means much more than just a defection. Bahujan Samaj Party, where Mahesh held the post of state president, contested 18 seats in Karnataka in the last legislative assembly election but managed to win just one.
While he sided with the coalition and became a minister for primary and secondary education, he was later dropped from the cabinet. After he was expelled from the party, Mahesh was said to be cosying up to the BJP.
As he joined what was once a party he had been ideologically at loggerheads with, the prominent Dalit leader said while speaking at the ceremony where he formally joined BJP that he was joining, keeping the development of the nation in mind. "Despite all the upheavals it has seen, the BJP is taking the nation on the path of progress," said Mahesh, as reported. He also accorded the move to being motivated by former CM B S Yediyurappa, who 'boosted his confidence'.
For the BJP, Mahesh is one of the few key Dalit - Right faces in the state and his inclusion will help the BJP, which has traditionally been seen as making space for only the Dalit left. At the recent central cabinet expansion, the party made a place for Karnataka's Dalit left leader A Narayanaswami, while at the state level too, the former cabinet had Govind Karjol, another Dalit left leader for a Deputy CM.
Also, the inclusion into the party comes just after the formation of the new cabinet, which hasn't made any of the Dalit right contenders a minister yet. Karnataka's grand old man, who despite giving up the top post, hasn't put up his shoes too vouched for the 'prominent role' for Mahesh and the significance of his inclusion at the event."
Speaking at the event that also saw many of Mahesh's followers join the party, Yediyurappa said there is a need for strengthening the BJP by inducting Dalit leaders and community in the state and that those gathered there should work to ensure they "send a message to PM Modi that the Dalit community in Karnataka stands with the BJP".
Highlighting the 'presence of the key leaders of the party on the dais' as a mark of love and respect for Mahesh, Yediyurappa said, " for the first time after Bommai became the CM, a Dalit MLA joining us has strengthened our party". He urged the Dalit community that had gathered there to ensure that the coming elections are fought 'together' such that the party has a single majority of 130 seats. "Nijawagalu aaneya bala bandantaagide" (it is as if we have got an elephant's strength), he said, signing off. This 'inclusive' and pro-Dalit image that the party is now trying to portray is also an attempt at demolishing its so-called 'anti-reservation' or 'anti- Dalit' and elitist image.
Of the five MLA's in Chamarajanagar district, BJP had just one - C S Niranjan Kumar of Gundlupet while Congress had two - C Puttaranga Shetty from Chamarajanagar and R Narendra from Hanur, with N Mahesh being the fifth.
The current cabinet, as note some, has also not yet included any ministers from the said region of Mysuru and Chamarajanagar. And as was the promise made to the other defectors by the former CM, this entry too may have a similar rider opine some. Also, the former CM's son and party state vice-president B Y Vijayendra harbour intentions of contesting from Mysuru, where Mahesh's inclusion may help garner Dalit votes.
While many theories are being expounded, one cannot dismiss the unrest among existing BJP leaders and workers from the Dalit community who would have ideologically taken on the once 'opposition' candidate.
The BSP, on its part, has called the defection a move for 'personal gain'. BSP state president M Krishnamurthy in a media address, said that N Mahesh, who had worked under the 'humanitarian' principles of Ambedkar and Phule, was now accepting 'manuvadi and fundamentalist' saffron forces and 'joining the BJP for political validity and personal benefit'.
Highlighting that Congress defector Ramesh Jarkiholi had said that Mahesh was as responsible as himself for the BJP coming to power and that Vijayendra, on his visit to Kollegala a few months ago, had used similar words for the ex-BSP legislator, Krishnamurthy added that this is testimony to the fact that his abstaining from the trust vote was intentional.
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