Yeddyurappa preps for oath, changes spelling again on astrologer’s advice
Yediyurappa’s chance to stake the claim comes on the back of the Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) government’s loss in the floor test on Tuesday.Updated: Jul 26, 2019 16:27 IST
Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, or BSY as he is referred to, is set to take charge as the chief minister of Karnataka for the fourth time in his nearly 50-year-long career on Friday.
Yediyurappa’s chance to stake the claim comes on the back of the Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) government’s loss in the floor test on Tuesday. He was able to better his two political rivals HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) and Congress’ Siddaramaiah after rebels from the coalition resigned as legislators, allegedly with the guidance of the BJP.
BSY has won nine assembly elections from the Shikaripur constituency in the state, beginning in 1983, and one Lok Sabha election in 2014 from the Shimoga constituency. The Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart was instrumental in helping it form its first government in the south in 2008.
Yediyurappa has gone to great lengths this time around to ensure that he enjoys a good stint at power having reverted to spelling his name as Yediyurappa as he used to before 2007, when he changed it to Yeddyurappa. The changed in spelling has come because he felt Yeddyurappa wasn’t lucky, especially because he has not managed a full five-year term in his previous three attempts.
In 2007, he lasted nine days in power as part of a fractious coalition with the JD(S) that ended in a bitter separation. In 2008, he ensured the BJP came to power in the state all on its own, winning 110 seats in the 224-member assembly and relying on Independents to make up the numbers. However, that stint was bruising for Yediyurappa as he was faced with severe dissent from within the party ranks and the term ended in ignominy as he was arrested in 2011, the first sitting chief minister to face such a fate.
He quit the BJP in 2012 to form the Karnataka Janata Paksha and ensured that the central party was reduced to a paltry 40 seats in the assembly. In 2013, at the insistence of the prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the BJP’s state unit swallowed pride and persuaded Yediyurappa to rejoin the party and reaped rich rewards in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 17 of the 28 seats in the state.
Over the next four years, dissent against Yediyurappa, who was also made state president of the party, was brewing in the background but there was no leader to challenge him. He still had the backing of the politically-dominant Lingayat community in the state.
In the 2018 polls, Yediyurappa expected to win a majority but the Congress was able to put up a decent show and the BJP fell narrowly short of a majority once again, winning 104 of the 224 seats. It was invited to form the government as the single largest party by Governor Vajubhai Vala but Yediyurappa had to resign on May 19, just three days into his stint, before facing a floor test amid allegations that he had tried to poach MLAs from the Congress and JD(S).
At 76, Yediyurappa felt this was his last chance of becoming the chief minister and was in a hurry to form the government. He even sent a delegation of close aides to meet the BJP’s president Amit Shah and working president JP Nadda in New Delhi to persuade them to allow him to stake a claim.
He is the only exception to the party’s rule of retiring politicians, who have reached 75 years of age. This is a testament to the continued hold Yediyurappa commands in a party that lacks an equally strong leader in its second rung.
However, many challenges remain before the BJP. Most importantly, the fate of 14 of the rebels is still hanging in the balance after Karnataka assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar disqualified only three from their ranks.
As a result, the House strength is still 222 and the BJP with 106 MLAs, including one Independent, is still short of the reduced majority mark. Even if the Speaker were to accept the resignation letters submitted by the rebels or disqualify them, the BJP will need to win at least eight of the seats for which by-polls will have to be conducted to hold a majority on its own.
Yediyurappa also has detractors within his own party, who he needs to take into confidence. His previous stint proved that though he might command the support of one community, he has not had a great track record in managing the aspirations of leaders in his party.
First Published: Jul 26, 2019 15:05 IST