Yediyurappa charts own plan to tour state to help BJP win 2023 polls
Even as the national leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been undertaking tours in Karnataka as part of its drive to consolidate its support base and iron out problems in its cadre and state leadership, former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, at least until now, is charting out his own plans to tour the state to help bring the BJP to power on it’s own in 2023.
Though the intent appears to be the same, the two sides have visible differences and distinct approaches to how this so-called common goal can be achieved.
The most conspicuous, analysts said, is how the BJPs national leadership is trying to push for an agenda on the platform of Hindutva while Yediyurappa continues to pursue his tried-and-tested caste-based politics.
“Yediyurappa will undergo a state-wide tour and will talk to the BJP state leadership and president (Nalin Kumar Kateel) and then finalise it (tour),” said one person aware of the former chief minister’s plans, requesting anonymity.
Arun Singh, the BJPs national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka has been touring parts of Old Mysuru region and is scheduled to head to Hubbali on Thursday and other regions in North Karnataka ahead of the upcoming Urban Local Body (ULB) polls on September 3.
CT Ravi, the national general secretary and legislator from Chikmagalur is also on a tour to poll-bound districts. Kalaburagi, Hubballi and Belagavi are headed to the polls on September 3.
Professor Chambi Puranik, political analyst and former faculty at Mysuru University said that the BJP cannot afford to “antagonize” Yediyurappa and will need him at the forefront if the saffron outfit has any hope of returning to power in 2023.
On Tuesday, Arun Singh said that the party will not stop Yediyurappa’s proposed state-tour after Ganesha Chaturthi. He added that the 78-year-old is an experienced leader and need not seek permission from the top brass to tour the state.
“There is some kind of understanding (between the BJP and Yediyurappa). Yesterday’s statement indicate that Yediyurappa is not just indispensable but also defiant. He (Yediyurappa) is an asset as well as a challenge to them,” Professor Puranik said.
The state is also likely to witness zilla and taluk panchayat elections later this year which, people aware of the developments said, would provide a good indicator of mood on the ground ahead of the 2023 assembly polls.
Leaders like Yediyurappa, Siddaramaiah and HD Deve Gowda among others have been part and parcel of Karnataka’s deeply caste-influenced society and politics over the decades that has shaped their careers and the discourse in the state. The Lingayats are believed to back Yediyurappa and the BJP while the backward classes, Dalits and minorities are known to side with the Congress. The JD(S) is believed to derive their strength and numbers in the assembly elections with the backing of the Vokkaligas, another dominant community found in majority in the Old Mysuru region.
Yediyurappa stepped down from the top chair after a long and bitter battle between the high command and his own partymen for almost two years on July 26 and was replaced by Basavaraj Bommai, a known loyalist of the former chief minister and who a Lingayat.
Yediyurappa, people aware of the developments said, continues to run the government and was able to get his choice of legislators to enter the new Cabinet.
More importantly, he kept those particular legislators who challenged his reign at the top post, out.
“Yediyurappa has a way to get people to do what he wants,” said a Bengaluru-based analyst, requesting not to be named.
The analyst referred to the likes of Basanagouda Patil (Yatnal), a firebrand and hardcore Hindutva leader, who was sucked into the caste-reservation row when he became one of the leading faces of the Panchamasali agitation. Panchamasali is the largest sub-sect within the Lingayats, believed to be the most populous and dominant caste group in Karnataka, to which Yediyurappa too belongs.
Yediyurappa came under flak by his own party when he refused to join the hardcore right wings assertion to blame Muslims for the spread of Covid- 19 in April last year after the Tablighi Jamaat row in Delhi.
Yediyurappa is faced with opposition from the likes of CT Ravi, another aspirant for the top job, known for his right wing views.
“Until Hindus are in majority in this country there will be the constitution written by Dr B R Ambedkar. Until Hindus are in majority there will be equal opportunity, once Hindus become minority what happened to Gandara (Afghanistan) will happen here too,”Ravi said in Kalaburagi on Tuesday, news agency PTI reported.