Tuesday, July 27 2021

Dive In

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That’s Jacek Olczak, the CEO of Philip Morris—one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world. He came out swinging against smoking, and called for a ban on tobacco products... at least in the UK. One big reason: the company has invested $8 billion and hired dozens of scientists and technicians to develop lower-risk, smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes. CNN has more on the future of Big Tobacco.

Big Story

The retirement of BS Yeddiyurappa

The TLDR: The BJP leadership finally managed to put one of the oldest and best-known faces in Karnataka politics out to pasture. And since this is Yeddy, the event was filled with drama—and, of course, tears. But picking his replacement may prove far trickier.


The grand resignation...

Came in a flood of tears as the infamously weepy Chief Minister once again opened to the water taps to announce his exit, saying, “I have decided to go to the Raj Bhavan after lunch and submit my resignation — not out of sadness but in all happiness”—presumably because it’s never wise to resign on an empty stomach.


The big lead up: The announcement came after days of breathless speculation as to whether the chief panjandrums of the party would publicly fire him—a situation that Yediyurappa encouraged by claiming he was waiting for Delhi to say the word. All of which was very odd and unnecessary since—as Times of India points out—BSY had already submitted his resignation on July 10. He wrote:


“However, with my prevailing health situation, I have not been able to do complete justice in the administration. Hence, I am requesting you to relieve me from my position as Minister of Karnataka. I will fully cooperate with you in selecting the next suitable replacement. I will continue to work for the party and the welfare of the people. I will give my service in the nation building exercise under your leadership. Kindly accept my resignation and allow me to discharge from my duties.”


But dragging out the inevitable served a bigger purpose—to make his exit appear to be a difficult choice for a leadership that has long been eager to shove him out the door:


“Creating a spectacle out of the wait, he had marvelously turned it into a Beckettian absurdist theatre. By doing so, he was cleverly creating a perception among his constituents that the BJP leadership was undecided about him. By repeatedly saying he will quit the moment he hears from Delhi, he was creating a plot to suggest that the BJP was struggling to find an acceptable replacement for him, and hence may be give him more time.”


A man for all parties: He is perhaps the only BJP CM whose exit prompted a rousing show of support from Congress that put his own supporters to shame. The party spokesperson passionately tweeted:


“The ignominy, torment & insult being heaped upon Sh. BS Yediyurappa by Modi ji, dictating him to tender his resignation, makes him PM’s latest victim and member of the ‘forced retirement club’.”


Yeddiyurappa, a uniter not a divider!


Point to note: In his speech, Yediyurappa also pointedly reminded everyone that the BJP had a piddling presence in Karnataka until he came along: “At a time when there were no cars, I remember cycling to work for the BJP party in Shikaripura, Shimoga. We, along with a few BJP workers, built the party and took it to where it is today.”


Why Yeddy had to go

There are four reasons why the Modi-Shah combine decided that BSY’s days were numbered.


One: Age. With the next state elections in 2023, the 78-year old will be far too old by then to be projected as the Chief Minister. And he is already three years past the unofficial retirement age imposed by the BJP leadership on all its leaders. One party source told The Hindu: “We are to face elections after two years, and the leadership should be such that would run for the next five years, that is why Yediyurappa has been asked to resign.”


Two: Corruption. The always-in-trouble BSY is a problem for an image-conscious BJP that prefers a morally pristine candidate. And in Yeddiyurappa’s case, he has been embarrassingly called out by his own party leaders for dubious decisions—including a land deal in Bellary. His own minister of rural development accused him of “serious lapses” and misusing funds of his department. And he is facing legal action over the coup he engineered to oust the Congress-JDS government in 2019—when he “wooed” a number of ruling party MLAs to defect to the BJP.


Three: His son. Vijayendra is the Vice President of Karnataka BJP—and the person BSY has heavily leaned on during his current stint as CM. And his critics accuse him of basically running the show:


“With the exception of a few trusted allies, as Yediyurappa cut himself off from the rest of his party, allegations of Vijayendra running a parallel government grew louder. Many ministers complained that Vijayendra interfered in their ministries by communicating directly with the officers, keeping them in the dark. Many MLAs alleged that funds to their constituencies were also determined by Vijayendra. Several BJP leaders accused Vijayendra of blocking access to Yediyurappa.”


And his alleged “interference and corruption” has become a lightning rod for internal party turmoil—spilling out into public rebellion.


Four: An independent streak. Much like Frank Sinatra—and to the party’s high command—Yeddiyurappa has done things his way. For example, he handed out by-election tickets to the rebel Congress/JDS MLAs—ignoring party loyalists—over objections of his party. And despite being an RSS man, he has been reluctant to embrace a hardcore Hindutva agenda a la Yogi Adityanath or even others within the Karnataka BJP.


Why Yeddy is here to stay



In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Downpours, downpours, everywhere
  • Shilpa Shetty is focus of Kundra case
  • Drinking too much coffee may shrink brain
  • A UN honour for a Telangana temple


A list of intriguing things

  • A rare sighting and footage of a glass octopus
  • The Museum of the Future in Dubai is cutting-edge architecture

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