Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, people aware of the developments said, wants his son Vijayendra be accommodated within the party.(HT_PRINT)
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, people aware of the developments said, wants his son Vijayendra be accommodated within the party.(HT_PRINT)

BS Yediyurappa stares at fighting a lone political battle

  • Voices against BS Yediyurappa have grown louder in recent times with many legislators already extending support to groups that are seeking the ouster of the 78-year-old.
By Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2021 07:19 AM IST

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa stares at fighting a lone battle against the growing tide of dissent with at least half of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators now firmly picking their sides, people aware of the developments said.

With some of his own confidants now seemingly unsure of sticking with the 78-year-old, the chief minister now stares at an imminent replacement and not necessarily with the person the former chooses as he has so often done in the past.

“There is a union cabinet expansion and one in Uttar Pradesh. So, by June end, there is likely to be some changes,” said one BJP legislator, requesting anonymity.

The legislator added that the chief minister’s close confidants have also kept their distance from Yediyurappa.

“There are a few people who are with the chief minister now but once the decision comes from the top, there will be none,” said another BJP MLA, also requesting anonymity.

The two legislators confirmed that the change will come as soon as the second wave wanes in Karnataka.

Voices against Yediyurappa have grown louder in recent times with many legislators already extending support to groups that are seeking the ouster of the 78-year-old. At least two senior leaders from the central leadership have met Yediyurappa in the past two weeks, people aware of the developments said. However, the nature of the meeting or what transpired is still unclear.

Political analysts said that with just one year to go before the state goes into full poll-mode, the BJP would have to make their decision fast as it could get more “expensive” if they take longer.

“His (Yediyurappa’s) experience does not require any of our certification, be it Vijayendra or anyone else, he knows how to run an administration,” BY Vijayendra, the state BJP vice president and the chief minister’s son told reporters on Friday.

Several ministers and legislators nurse strong feelings against Vijayendra, who is accused of running a parallel administration under the aegis of the chief minister.

“Other than making statements for political reasons, no minister has said that there is Vijayendra’s interference. Being the vice president of the party, I am also aware of my duties,” he added.

Yediyurappa, people aware of the developments said, wants his son Vijayendra be accommodated within the party. Some say that the chief minister has demanded that his son be made the deputy chief minister in return for the former stepping down from the top chair. Yediyurappa’s other son, BY Raghavendra is BJP’s MP from Shivamogga, the home district of the chief minister.

Circling back to the question; “who’s the alternative to Yediyurappa” just does not make the cut anymore as the chief minister is rapidly losing support from within his own government and party colleagues, who have been partially successful in mustering more support.

But factionalism between these groups are also cropping up with some claiming to be contenders while the old-guard, with over three victories under his belt, resisting any such attempts.

However, most of the BJP legislators in Karnataka are still guessing the possible choice to replace Yediyurappa.

“It may likely go to a Delhi person,” said the second legislator, making an apparent reference to union minister Pralhad Joshi. The legislator added that the Centre is also likely to continue the same strategy as the one in place currently with three deputy chief ministers, representing three major caste groups in the state. There are three deputy chief minister’s now--Lakshman Savadhi, Dr CN Ashwath Narayana and Govind Karjol--from Lingayat, Vokkaliga and from a community classified as Scheduled Caste.

But dissent within the BJP has still not come out completely in the open, barring a few instances like the letter written by the rural development and panchayat raj minister, KS Eshwarappa in March, in which he complained of interference with his department as well as circumventing the minister by awarding contract to others.

CP Yogeshwara, Karnataka’s minister for tourism, ecology and environment, who went to meet the central leadership in Delhi on Tuesday, has been at the receiving end of sharp attacks from his own party colleague, MP Renukacharya.

“Only one or two legislators are trying to do this,” said MP Renukacharya, the BJP legislator from Honnali and political secretary to the chief minister.

The legislator has openly called for Yogeshwara’s removal as the latter failed to even win his seat from Channapatna against HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S).

Political analysts said that there was pressure to remove Yediyurappa but added that any such move, especially done in haste, would add to the negative publicity against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government.

One north Karnataka-based analyst said it would be “disastrous” for the central leadership to oust Yediyurappa at this stage. The analyst added that in the current circumstances, BJP would not find a leader with the same pan-Karnataka appeal or reach that Yediyurappa has.

“Dislodging Yediyurappa would be challenging in terms of who would be an alternate leader,” said the analyst, requesting not to be named.

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