Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa.(PTI Photo)
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa.(PTI Photo)

Yediyurappa: 10 points about BJP’s mascot in the south

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).
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru | By Venkatesha Babu
UPDATED ON JUL 27, 2019 09:29 AM IST

BS 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 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 set up a hardware store in Shikaripura but eventually drifted to politics. One of his five children, BS Raghavendra, is the Shimoga MP. His wife died in 2004.

Sangh’s 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 quickly became RSS Shivamogga unit chief. In 1973, he was elected to 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 became chief of the Janata Party’s Shivamogga unit in 1977, the year it ousted Congress from the Centre.

Blue-eyed boy

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, which brought him to the attention of national leaders. In 1985 assembly polls, the BJP won only two seats — Belthangady (Vasant Bangera) and Shikaripura (Yediyurappa). Bangera eventually joined the Congress but Yediyurappa remained loyal to BJP and emerged as Sangh’s blue-eyed boy.

Stirs 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.

Victories, a setback

Yediyurappa has been elected MLA seven times from Shikaripura, the first time in 1983. He became Shimoga MP in 2014. The lone setback he suffered was in 1999 when he lost Shikaripura. But the BJP immediately sent him to the upper house as an MLC, where he became the leader of Opposition.

The 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. He briefly quit the BJP and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha in 2012. In 2014, he merged his party with the BJP. In the 2018 polls, 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.

Tireless campaigner

In Karnataka, three politicians are credited with never giving up – former CM Sarekoppa Bangarappa, Janata Dal (Secular) chief Deve Gowda and Yediyurappa.

Personal quirks

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.

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