BSY’s son Vijayendra, who led BJP to maiden victory in K R Pete, is Karnataka’s new saffron star
On Monday as news began to stream in of a saffron sweep in the Karnataka bypolls, chief minister B S Yediyurappa’s younger son B Y Vijayendra became the toast of the BJP after engineering the party’s maiden victory in the K R Pete assembly seat bypoll.
As the BJP swept 12 of the 15 seats in the assembly bye-elections, Vijayendra was one of the most prominent winners although he did not contest the polls
Forty four-year-old Vijayendra is the state general secretary of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the student wing of BJP and is increasingly being projected as the possible successor to his father’s legacy.
For observers of Karnataka politics the BJP win in K R Pete holds special significance, than the win in the other 11 seats, for three reasons. First BJP had never won a seat in Mandya district in which K R Pete comes. Mandya is considered the heartland of the Vokkaliga belt. Vokkaligas are the second largest community in the state and till now had not been receptive to BJP’s overtures choosing to back only the JDS or Congress. So a win from a seat where the party had never won was significant.
Second, the Yeddyurappa family traces its roots to Bookankere village located in the same K R Pete constituency. The B in B S Yediyurappa stands for his village’s name. So it had been embarrassing to the BJP’s first family in Karnataka that they had never won the seat where they hailed from. And the last reason being that the JD (S) first family of Deve Gowda, his sons and grandsons had unleashed their full barrage of star campaigners against the BJP and were determined to teach the defector BJP candidate Narayana Gowda a lesson, turning this into a prestige fight.
So it was a keenly fought battle both for BJP and JD(S). It was Vijayendra who marshaled resources and led from the front to ensure that the BJP candidate won. Vijayendra has never hidden his political ambitions. In fact in the May 2018 assembly polls he wanted to contest against Yatindra Siddaramaiah (who is the son of former Congress CM Siddaramaiah) from Varuna constituency in Mysuru.
He even actively campaigned in the seat before polls were announced seeking votes for himself and his party. However, when the BJP high command, which was chary of being accused of promoting nepotism, nixed the idea of giving a ticket to Vijayendra, he was forced to bide his time.
The BJP brass was worried on how any decision to give Vijayendra a ticket will look, specially, as his elder brother and Yediyurappa’s first son Raghavendra is already a BJP MP from Shivamogga. BJP did not want to be accused of ‘parivarvad’ a charge which it routinely flings at Congress and other regional parties.
Unlike Raghavendra who is reserved, Vijayendra is much more of a people’s person like their father. He seems to enjoy the cut and thrust of local politics while his elder brother comes across as a reluctant participant. That is the reason why the second son is now being seen as the likely inheritor of Yediyurappa’s legacy in the long run.
After the K R Pete win, speaking to reporters, he brushed aside demands from a section of his supporters that he be given a role in the state government. In a tweet he claimed that such a demand for a formal role for him in the state government was ‘regrettable. I don’t agree with this demand.’ He also gave credit of the K R Pete victory to party workers and leaders for their effort.
Critics though point out that already a carefully orchestrated campaign has been started to give Vijayendra some kind of a role in the government. Yediyurappa himself in the past while speaking to HT has carefully sidestepped questions on whether he is promoting his sons saying that whatever they are ‘it is due to their merit.’ Either way the bypolls has ensured that yet another sonrise in Indian politics has taken place. It remains to be seen though how he will leverage his famous surname and his father’s clout to make a mark in politics. But clearly he is somebody to watch on the Karnataka political horizon