Home Minister R Ashok's refusal to step down despite FIR being filed by the Lokayukta police in a graft case, has put BJP high command in a tight spot. L K Advani initially hinted about not holding a public function as part of his ongoing anti-corruption Rath Yatra, but showed willingness to go ahead after reportedly being convinced by Ananth Kumar

In Karnataka, BJP leaders seems to have grown bigger than the party and the high command is apparently getting a hard time. First, an adamant B S Yeddyurappa defied the party leadership by refusing to step down as Chief Minister after being named a land scam by the Lokayukta a few months ago.

L K Advani is to address a public rally on October 30, when his Jana Chetana Yatra reaches the state. He hinted at giving it a miss after a graft case was registered against Ashok

Now, his close aide and Home Minister R Ashok has left  the high command beleaguered with his refusal to step down even after the Lokayukta police filed FIR against him in a land scam. This, despite BJP patriarch L K Advani hinting at dropping plans to have a public function in Bangalore as part of his ongoing anti-corruption Rath Yatra.

After his veiled threat to skip the public meeting did little to convince the tainted home minister to step down,  Advani sprung a surprise yesterday, by showing willingness to hold the rally anyway. He is to address a public rally on October 30, when his Jana Chetana Yatra reaches the state, as per original plans.
He had hinted at giving it a miss after the graft case was registered against Ashok, minister for home and transport, and the Lokayukta police initiated investigations by filing an FIR on Friday. While Ashok is adamant and continues to cling to power, Advani said yesterday that he has no hesitation to hold the public function in
the city.

Senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar, to whose camp R Ashok belongs, has reportedly convinced party patriach L K Advani not to cancel his public meeting on October 30 as it would mount pressure on the Home Minister to resign

Meanwhile, Ananth Kumar, to whose camp Ashok belongs, had reportedly convinced Advani not to cancel attending the public function since it would bring the minister under pressure to resign.

Against the wall
While the BJP leaders, including former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, and former ministers Katta Subramanya Naidu, Janardana Reddy and Krishnaiah Setty have landed in jail, fresh cases involving Ashok, Murugesh Nirani industry minister and the medical education minister are adding to the embarrassment.

To add to the ongoing drama, sources indicated that more revelations about ministers Shobha Karandlaje, Visweswara Hegde Kageri and others' involvement in corruption are in the offing.

"It is such confusion that the party higher ups are not in a position to insist on the resignation of the accused now because the list is so long that might empty the current cabinet. This situation has given Ashok the advantage and he is sticking to his guns," said a source in the BJP.

Sticky situation
However, the Lokayukta police have found themselves in a precarious position while investigating a case in which their boss, the home minister, is the main accused.

It is learnt that no one in the squad is willing to come forward to be an investigative officer in the case and the mantle finally fell on Deputy Superintendent of Police Abdul Ahad before the FIR was filed.

"It is very unfair on Ashok's part to put the police officers in such a bad predicament. He should have resigned," said a BJP leader. Ashok on the other hand said, "I am willing to cooperate with the Lokayukta so I need not resign."

While the party is being constantly rattled by the slew of corruptions cases, today is being seen as a crucial day for the BJP. The High Court continues to hear Yeddyurappa's bail plea and his camp is confident of him getting bail.

Nirani's case will come up for hearing in the Lokayukta court and the judge will decide on admitting it, based on the documents to be submitted by complainant Alam Pasha. Ashok is expected to move the HC with a plea to quash the FIR against him, while Setty's bail plea will also come for hearing.

"Monday's outcome is crucial for us to be clear about Advani's public function in Bangalore. Being the district in-charge minister, Ashok has to preside over the function and status of his case is crucial," said a spokesperson of the BJP.