BJP’s southern stalwart at helm again
Bengaluru: B S Yediyurappa, known to have changed the spelling of his name twice before, took charge as Karnataka chief minister for the fourth time on Friday. Here are 10 little-known facts about him:
Janmabhoomi vs karmabhoomi
Yediyurappa’s janmabhoomi is Bookankere, a small farming village in Mandya district, but his karmabhoomi is Shivmogga, where he landed in 1965 to work for the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). The irony is that in spite of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s many successes in Karnataka, it has never won the K R Pete constituency under which Bookankere falls. But Shikaripura constituency in Shivamogga has elected Yediyurappa seven times since 1983.
Rice mill clerk to hardware store owner to CM
After his graduation, BSY briefly worked as a first division clerk in Karnataka government’s social welfare department. In 1965, he quit and joined as a clerk in Shankar Rice Mill. Two years later he married Mythra Devi, the daughter of mill owner Veerbhadra Shastri. Then, he setup a hardware store in Shikaripura but eventually drifted to politics. One of his five children, B S Raghavendra, is the Shimogga MP. His wife died in 2004.
Sangh’s formative influence
Yediyurappa’s hagiographers say he came under Sangh influence when he was 15 but others say his RSS roots grew in Shikaripura. In 1972, he became Sangh karyavaha (secretary) in Shikaripura and went on to quickly became RSS Shivmogga unit chief. In 1973, he was elected member of Shikaripura Municipal Council. But it was the Emergency of 1975 that propelled his rise in the Sangh hierarchy. He was jailed for 45 days, first at Shivamogga and then in Ballari prison.
When the Jana Sangh (precursor to the BJP) merged with the Janata Party, he was elected president of the Janata Party’s Shivamogga unit in 1977, the year it ousted the Congress from power at the Centre.
In 1983, the BJP won 18 of the 110 seats it contested and helped the Janata Party form the first non-Congress government in the state. Yediyurappa came to the attention of national leaders in a big way for enabling this. In assembly polls held two years later, the BJP won only two seats -- Belthangady (Vasant Bangera) and Shikaripura (Yediyurappa). Bangera eventually joined the Congress but Yediyurappa remained steadfast in his loyalty to the BJP and emerged as the Sangh’s blue-eyed boy.
Agitations that shaped him
Yediyurappa made a name for himself in Karnataka by taking part in three major agitations -- rehabilitation of bonded labourers in 1977, Bagar Hukum (landless labourers) movement in the early 1980s, and a cycle yatra during the great drought of 1987.
Electoral victories and a lone setback
Yediyurappa has been elected MLA seven times from Shikaripura, the first time in 1983. He became Shimogga MP in 2014. The lone setback he suffered was in 1999 when he lost Shikaripura to Mahalingappa of Congress. But the BJP immediately sent him to the upper house as an MLC, where he became the leader of Opposition.
Political nadir and comeback
The low point of Yediyurappa’s career came in 2011 when he was forced to quit as CM after a Lokayukta report indicted him in an illegal mining case and a land denotification case in Bengaluru. He became the first Karnataka CM to be arrested and spent 23 days in prison. He was subsequently cleared in the illegal mining case, but the “jailbird” taint could not be washed off.
He briefly quit the BJP and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha in 2012. Two years later, he merged his party with the BJP. In the 2018 polls, the BJP won 104 seats.
Sharp political elbows
Yediyurappa has ensured he remains indispensable to the BJP. So much so that he has taken oath as Karnataka CM at 76 while belonging to a party that tends to retire people at 75. Some old-timers accuse him of not giving credit for the BJP’s growth to leaders such as Anant Kumar, Jagadish Shettar and Sadananda Gowda.
Many BJP leaders privately complain that Yediyurappa suffers from the banyan tree syndrome of not allowing anybody to grow under him for fear that they will eventually overshadow him.
In Karnataka politics, three politicians are credited with never giving up – former CM Sarekoppa Bangarappa, Janata Dal (Secular) chief Deve Gowda and Yediyurappa.
A believer in astrology and Vaastu, he was upset with the previous Kumaraswamy government for refusing to allot him the “lucky” bungalow he occupied as CM. He has also changed the spelling of his name thrice – Yadiyoorappa to Yeddyurappa to Yediyurappa – apparently on the advice of a numerologist.