Hegde lands on Yeddyurappa's campaign trail - The Times of India BANGALORE: Two people appear to have mopped up voter TRPs in Bellary. And both are not contesting the bypoll. One is BJP's star campaigner B S Yeddyurappa, who recently spent 24 days in jail. The other, who the former chief minister believes was the prime reason for being jailed, is former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde. Yeddyurappa has reduced the electoral debate to a smear fest by strumming on slander and suspicion, say sources within the BJP. Is his own agenda more important than the party's? The demolish-Hegde drama may have a negative fallout especially when the party desperately needs to highlight achievements. "Our star campaigner is tom-toming Justice Hegde's unfairness," sources said. Are we contesting against Hegde in Bellary, they ask. Under the BJP scanner is its state president K S Eshwarappa, who has given Yeddyurappa a free hand to launch a personal attack on Justice Hegde, says a party functionary familiar with the situation. "He got cracking after getting the support of party leaders. But we will have to analyse whether such vilification will damage us,'' the functionary said. Even chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda, who also had a hand in pulling Yeddyurappa into the Bellary campaign, does not seem comfortable with such gunfire, say party insiders. But the Yeddyurappa-dependent BJP has little choice; Yeddyurappa simply towers above Sadananda Gowda and Eshwarappa in the campaign. Yeddyurappa's presence may have even kept national leaders away from the bypoll but his party's state unit believes the tainted former chief minister is their winning ace. "He (Yeddyurappa) is undoubtedly our undisputed leader and star campaigner. Why would the party force him to take part in the campaign when he was unwilling? He has the charisma and popularity among masses, who feel he was trapped and betrayed by his political opponents," says excise minister M P Renukacharya. Then, there is the sympathy factor. Says former BJP MLA Ashok Katwe: "Roping in Yeddyurappa was purely a political move. The party sensed that his 24 days in jail had generated tremendous sympathy among Lingayats." But will sympathy overpower an electorate's anger and helplessness against corruption? "The campaign to vilify Justice Hegde is shameful. These baseless allegations are coming from a tainted politician who is pushed against the wall," says Ravivarma Kumar, former chairman, Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes. Agrees a retired judge who didn't want to be named: "Yeddyurappa is all set to prove a popular saying: a lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth. It is a serious attempt to bounce back from a scandal that tarnished his career. In this case, it will only backfire,'' In the Yeddyurappa vs Hegde slugfest, Justice Hegde may have a campaign twister: "Instead of making oral allegations, why does he (Yeddyurappa) not produce material to prove (all that)?" The voters of Bellary may well ask Yeddyurappa that question before they cast their vote on November 30.