BJP Pacifies Dissidents, To Plan BS Yediyurappa's All-Karnataka Tour
While BS Yediyurappa had announced that he will go on a tour post Ganesh Utsav, the BJP has taken over the reins.
Less than two months since BS Yediyurappa stepped down as Karnataka chief minister, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state seems to have decided to keep him on a tight leash. While Yediyurappa has decided to do a tour of Karnataka to "strengthen the party" after Ganesh Utsav, it will be the BJP party office that will decide his tour plan, including the places that he has to visit.
A source close to Yediyurappa told The Quint, "The itinerary of the tour will be decided by the party office. Even the date of the tour will be decided by the party". The BJP's decision to own up Yediyurappa's tour plan, which was announced end of August, is as attempt to quell factionalism within the party, sources said.
Brewing Dissatisfaction Quelled?
The Karnataka BJP had come out of a long-drawn internal power tussle only in July this year. Partially satisfying the BJP leaders, who were at loggerheads with Yediyurappa, the BJP high command replaced the latter with Basavaraj Bommai as chief minister. Since then, the party has been witnessing minor tussles, with some BJP leaders expressing dissatisfaction with the portfolios they have been assigned in Bommai's cabinet.
Soon after the Bommai cabinet was sworn in, allegations emerged from within the party rungs that representatives of several districts of the state were left out. According to dissidents, 13 districts of the state, including Mysore, were not represented in the cabinet.
Some party leaders, including Hiriyur Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Poornima and former Deputy Speaker Anand Mamani, had openly expressed their anger at being excluded from the cabinet.
Against this backdrop, Yediyurappa's decision to hold an all-Karnataka tour triggered apprehension among the BJP's central leadership. "The decision to go on the tour was first thought of as Yediyurappa's way of coming back to active politics with a bang. This was not expected as the party wanted him to work with the newly formed government under CM Bommai," a BJP national leader said.
Yediyurappa, however, wanted to pave the way for his son, BY Vijayendra.
Will BJP Karnataka Emerge from BSY's Shadow?
Yediyurappa had said that his son Vijayendra would tag along In the tour. The veteran leader, who was accused of promoting his son's political ambitions over that of the party, had not waited even a month after his emotional resignation to make the announcement.
For the BJP this proposition did not seem promising, a senior leader said. "It is widely believed that the BJP's future in Karnataka is tied to Yediyurappa's fortunes. The leadership change in the state was expected to nullify this belief. If Yediyurappa does a tour with his son to ensure his family's political future, it will not serve the party well," the leader rued.
The state party office's decision to promote the tour as a party event has hence come as a relief. Arun Singh, the BJP national leader from Karnataka, had said earlier this month that Yediyurappa's tour has the party's blessings.
While the statement was meant to quell speculation that the BJP is opposed to Yediyurappa's continued prominence in the party, it has not pacified BJP leaders who are still in the former CM's oppositional camp.
The party then decided to take over the tour. "The tour can now be the party's curtain raiser for Legislative Assembly election which is scheduled for 2023," the BJP source said.
Yediyurappa Attempts To Toe the Line
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa who has always been a one-man army for the BJP in Karnataka, has been attempting to be a team player.
The leader has been issuing congratulatory statements to Bommai government ever since his resignation. His first public meeting was with some MLAs who were excluded from the Bommai cabinet. He was attempting to "pacify" the dissident leaders of the party, his office had clarified in August. On 6 September, Yediyurappa issued a statement cheering the BJP's performance in Karnataka municipal election, counting for which was underway till late night.
However, the leader does not seem to be in the mood to stoop from his towering political personality. If he were to lead the tour, with the BJP's blessings, Yediyurappa could claim that he would be BJP's chief ministerial candidate in 2023 elections. This, even as the party has been batting for newer faces to emerge from under his shadow.
"The party can control Yediyurappa. It is not true that the BJP has left him to do what he wants," a senior leader of the party, however, said. The biggest challenge for the BJP will be to rein in Yediyurappa's political ambition even as it draws the goodwill the leader enjoys in the state.
"For now, the tour will be guided. The BJP is in the driver's seat," the leader said.
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