Yeddyurappa's journey from farming to chief ministership
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Yeddyurappa's journey from farming to chief ministership

BSY's effort at building support at the grassroot-level is among the key contributors in building BJP in Karnataka.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2007 15:26 IST

For Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa, who ushered in a bumper harvest for the BJP in Karnataka, it has been a long way from being a rustic farmer and leader of peasants to become the first saffron party chief minister of the state.

The 64-year-old leader, credited with being the architect behind installing the first BJP-led government in South India, began his political career as an active member of the RSS.

Learning initial steps of leadership, development of mass base and human resources management from the RSS, he went on to apply these pragmatic lessons in action when he decided to lead various mass movements in the state, highlighting the problems faced by landless farmers and bonded labourers.

Born to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma in Bookanakere in Mandya district in the state on February 27, 1943, the BJP leader lost his mother when he was just four-years-old. However, his determination to rise above all odds saw him overcoming the personal tragedy and move on in life.

Yeddyurappa was elected as President, Shikaripura Taluk Jana Sangha in 1972, marking his debut in public life. His leadership skills got an early start when he became the secretary of the Janata Party in 1977.

His forte in taking up peoples' issues, was amply illustrated when he spearheaded a team of 1,700 bonded labourers to Shimoga Deputy Commissioner's Office demanding the release and rehabilitation of such labourers.

A farmer himself, it was under his leadership that the movement for upholding the rights of ryots who were cultivating on government land unauthorisedly gained momentum.

It was Yeddyurappa's initiative again that saw a movement to prevent the Forest Department from planting eucalyptus saplings on lands possessed by farmers.

His effort at building support at the grassroot-level were among the key contributors in building BJP in the state. A rare sight among today's political fraternity, Yeddyurappa travelled all over Shikaripur Taluk on a bicycle to survey the droughts in August 1987, to gain a first-hand knowledge of the situation.

For a man who has seen several ups and downs both in his personal and public life, it was a testing period when he was imprisoned for 45 days at Shimoga and Bellary during the infamous 1975 emergency.

Though earlier elected as member of the Shikaripur Municipal Council in 1975 and as President in 1977 and as President of the Shikaripur Taluk Unit of BJP during 1980, the turning point in his public life came when entered the Karnataka Legislative assembly in 1983.

His political career graph has been mapped with many a milestone, including that of being elected five times to the state assembly since 1983 from Shikaripura, appointed as the All India Secretary of BJP in 1992, becoming the state BJP President for two terms to being the leader of the opposition in the assembly in 1994 and the deputy chief minister in 2006.

Despite losing elections in 1999, he managed to make his political presence felt as member of the Upper House. His strong oratorial skills and ability to identify issues that were closely related to the hearts of the masses, saw him build the party from a scratch to winning 79 seats in the 2004 assembly elections.

As the finance minister, Yeddyurappa is credited with presenting two state budgets and successfully implementing schemes for the welfare of women, farmers and girl children.

His skill as a good leader came to the fore, when, despite Karnataka politics largely being dominated by the JD(S) legacy and the Congress, the saffron leader, a member of the powerful Lingayat community, used his cards well when he sniffed a fallout between the Congress and JD(S).

Not a man to let opportunity go by, he cleverly manouevered BJP to the centre of the political drama in 2006, forcing a rather reluctant but left with little choice JD(S) to agree to the hitherto unperceivable matrimony between the secularist party and the Hinduvta philosophy-led BJP.

Striking a 20:20 month bargain, the BJP leader managed to get even a difficult JD(S) agree to sharing power. Having kept the promises made at the political alter when the marriage was formalised, Yeddyurappa ensured that the BJP never lost on its moral right to demand for the post of the chief minister when its turn to be in the hot seat arrived.

Under-estimated by the JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda and the Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, the coalition partner of the JD(S) sprang a surprise when it demanded that the JD(S) stick to its promise or have the rug pulled from under.

Not willing to be a pawn in the political chess by stalwarts like Gowda, state BJP under Yeddyurappa, decided to break up from its coalition partner on grounds of betrayal, as JD(S) tried to go to its old ally Congress, which it had spurned earlier.

First Published: Nov 12, 2007 15:13 IST