If B S Yeddyurappa’s career till this point is any indicator, then he has already shifted his focus to the next task.
“We wanted to bring the misgovernance of the past five years to an end. We wanted to provide good governance and development for the people of Karnataka… but it looks like the divine has willed otherwise… I will go back to the people of Karnataka… I will tour the entire state once again… we will ensure that Karnataka gives 28 out of 28 seats to the BJP in the 2019 elections in order to strengthen the hands of Sri Narendra Modi’s government… whether after five years or in between when this state government falls we will come back again.”
For anyone who knows Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa (BSY), the above statements delivered by him on the 19 May 2018, just before submitting his resignation as Chief Minister after to prove a majority on the floor of the house, will not come as a surprise. For the past 46 years of his political career, two qualities have been hallmarks of his personality – a never say die outlook and the ability to refocus on the next goal at hand. Whatever the occasion, be it a victory or a loss, BSY has always shown a remarkable attitude of focusing on the next target.
It was May 2014. The euphoria of the amazing victory of Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha elections was yet to settle down. Yeddyurappa wrote a letter to the soon-to-be prime minister, voluntarily out of the race for a ministerial position and dedicated himself for strengthening the party in Karnataka for the future. He had just returned to the BJP six months back, after a short venture heading the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), whose only achievement was having scuttled BJP’s chances in the 2013 state elections.
As soon as Modi took over the reins, BSY was quickly back in the scheme of things. Due to the Modi and BJP wave, BSY sailed through the Lok Sabha elections from Shivamogga constituency with a margin of over 3 lakh votes. Given his age, and the tag of being the senior-most leader from the state, BSY could have taken the easy route of becoming a Union cabinet minister, heading a comfortable ministry and then ending his political career five years later. But BSY has never shown an inclination for anything but hard work and challenges. And so, he lent his focus on resurrecting the fortunes of the state BJP, which had sunk to around 40 seats in the 2013 assembly elections.
In 2016, he the president of the state unit of the BJP and started preparations for the 2018 elections. He had to face the problem of within the state unit, just like in the three-year stint of his chief ministership between 2008 and 2011. However, unlike the “hita-shatrus” at the Centre and state earlier, he got complete support from Modi and party chief Amit Shah this time. By 2017, his candidature for the chief ministership was officially announced. BSY decided it was time to connect directly with the people.
From November 2017 until early January 2018, BSY undertook the ‘Parivartana Ratha Yatra’ covering all 224 constituencies of Karnataka. Literally living off a vehicle converted into a ‘ratha’, the 74-year-old stalwart covered 6,000 kilometres addressing hundreds of rallies over 75 days. The response from the public was tremendous. BSY’s task in the rally was three-fold – exposing the disastrous rule of the Congress from 2013 onwards, reminding people of the good work done by his government back in 2008-11 and convincing people how voting BJP would be beneficial as the same party being at the helm at the Centre, and state would give a big push for development under a favourable federal model.
Due to his outstanding commitment and hard work, the BJP increased its tally from 40 to 104 in the just concluded elections and had a brief shot at power. While there is no doubt that the party received a big boost during the final phases of the campaigning from PM Modi’s rallies, which took its total to over 100, it was the groundwork done by BSY through his yatra, rallies and campaigns that brought BJP closer to the 100 mark in the first place.
The selfless sacrifice of BSY in 2014, and subsequent efforts, has no doubt resurrected the party in Karnataka.
Grassroots Worker To Towering Leader
After a brief stint as a government employee in the early 1960s and trying out his luck in business with a hardware shop, Yeddyurappa jumped into electoral politics in the 1970s. Of course, even prior to that, he had always been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and served as its Shikaripura unit’s karyavaha. During the infamous Emergency from 1975-77, he was jailed due to his association with the RSS and the Jana Sangh.
He kept rising within the power echelons of the BJP, becoming its Shikaripura president in 1980 and then the Shivamogga district president in 1985. In 1988, he became the state BJP president of Karnataka for the first time. He entered the Karnataka assembly by winning the 1983 elections and since then has represented the constituency seven times.
In early 2006, he became deputy chief minister of Karnataka as part of a coalition government with the Janata Dal. However, in October 2007, Janata Dal reneged on its promise to hand over power to BSY after 20 months and the government collapsed. He had a brief stint as chief minister, for the first time, for 12 days in November 2007 when the Janata Dal again failed to live up to its promise of support, and he resigned.
In the 2008 elections, fought under his leadership, BJP won 110 seats and he became the chief minister for the second time. The of his tenure were the special attention to farmers in the form of a separate budget, launch of several irrigation schemes, reformation in temple management and launch of multiple infrastructure projects for Bengaluru. After having given an efficient administration for three years, he fell victim to the shenanigans of his opponents, both within and outside the party. A number of allegations of corruption, in mining related cases and land deals, were hoisted on him and he was forced to resign in July 2011.
From 2012 to late 2013, Yeddyurappa went out of the BJP, which he had served his entire life, and experimented with a new party of his own – the KJP. He showed his might and influence in the 2013 elections, especially amongst the Lingayat voters, and was a factor in BJP’s poor performance in that year’s state elections. The BJP leadership quickly realised its folly and he made an honourable return to the party in January 2014. Needless to say, the false cases hoisted on him started to fall off, and by 2016, he was in every single case.
The Party Man
B S Yeddyurappa’s life history is one of complete dedication for the causes he believed in – the upliftment of the poor in Karnataka, the growth and strengthening of his party, and service to Hindu dharma. His remarkable ability to forget the actions of his detractors and make compromises keeping the larger goal of the party and government in mind has meant that both he and the party have grown multi-fold in the past few decades in Karnataka. Being the biggest reason for the first ever success of the BJP in south India in 2008 will always remain his crowning glory.
It is the strange nature of our Constitution, and laws, that a person who loses the confidence of the people in elections can still make a backdoor entry through the legislative council and become a “people’s representative”. Similarly, a party which actually loses the mandate of the people can still stitch a post-poll alliance and grab power once more – against the will of the people. Due to this irony, Yeddyurappa has had to end his third stint at chief ministership within two days.
Till these anomalies are corrected (if at all they ever are), it is the responsibility of the voting public to ensure that their will clearly reflects in the results and that there is no uncertainty on whom they want to be governed by. B S Yeddyurappa has indicated in his farewell speech that he is not one to blame people for the result – but will go back to them and convince them of the need to return him and his party with a clear majority – in both the Lok Sabha and state elections.
Given his stellar record of staging comebacks through sheer hard work and dedication, there is no doubt he will succeed in convincing the voters.
Make no mistake. B S Yeddurappa – the phoenix – shall rise again.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.