Contrary to Claims, BJP Leadership Signals ‘Exit’ for Yediyurappa
Yediyurappa’s sons, 47-year-old BY Raghavendra and 45-year-old BY Vijayendra, too will have to prove their worth.
In Karnataka’s legislative power corridors, it is crystal clear that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s time is up.
In fact, the BJP is even clear that Yediyurappa’s kin including his sons – 47-year-old BY Raghavendra and 45-year-old BY Vijayendra – will not have a future in politics if they piggyback on the 78-year-old’s clout.
This, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national leadership has defended, on record, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s stake to his chair.
National leader and Union Minister Pralhad Joshi was the first to come out on 7 June, to state that there will be no leadership change in the state. Between the last week of May and the first week of June, several party leaders are believed to have reached out to the high command to terminate Yediyurappa.
Even in March this year, BJP leaders had voiced their dissatisfaction with Yediyurappa’s governance. Party legislator, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal has been a vocal critic of Yediyurappa in recent times. In the last two weeks, state tourism minister CP Yogeshwara and Huballi-Dharwad MLA Arvind Bellad had also spoken out against the CM.
BJP Convinced of Leadership Change
Speaking to The Quint, a national leader of the BJP explained, “He is the only one in the party who is in a position of power even after completing 75 years. The party’s aim is to remove him without causing him heartache”. Yediyurappa’s presence will not be felt when the party heads towards the 2023 Assembly elections, he said. “He will be over 80 by then and we need to promote younger leadership.”
On 6 June Yediyurappa had announced that he is willing to step down and assume any role given by the BJP leadership. The party, however, within a day scrambled to announce that Yediyurappa would not be removed.
Reason, the BJP does not want to come across as indisciplined. “The fight between the MLAs and Yediyurappa is out in the open. As a party which believes in discipline, the BJP cannot favour the dissidents over Yediyurappa immediately,” the BJP leader said. A state leader of the party agreed, “The MLAs are raising a ruckus making it impossible for the party high command to be discreet. Their objection is, however, duly noted”.
The camp opposing Yediyurappa within the BJP, including Bellad and Yatnal, have their hopes up because the party had in March removed Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat. He was replaced by Tirath Singh Rawat. They are further emboldened by the fact that they have not been chastised by the high command for their anti Yediyurappa stance.
“The MLAs have the high command’s support because no disciplinary action was taken against them for repeatedly raising protests. Though Yatnal was served a showcause notice in February, his relentless barbs against the CM were mostly ignored,” the national BJP leader said.
The CM’s perceived mishandling of COVID situation in the state also has not helped, he added. “The state completely failed to handle the COVID situation and caused embarrassment for the party nationally,” he said. As of 1 June, a total of 29,554 people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Karnataka.
Given this background, the sons of Yediyurappa will have to ready themselves for some tough bargaining about their political future.
What of the CM’s Sons?
While Raghavendra, the CM's eldest son, is a BJP MP from Shivamogga, BY Vijayendra who is yet to be initiated into electoral politics, is the one who has drawn the most flak for interfering with governance in the state.
Vijayendra is accused of nonchalantly furthering his financial interests at the cost of state matters.
“Vijayendra is eyeing the deputy CM’s post in the next election. But his interference in governance has not gained him goodwill in the party. He also does not enjoy the respect which Yediyurappa gets,” a senior party leader said.
The BJP is in the mood for cutting off the CM’s family completely for a term, he added. Each of the sons will have to prove their worth before the high command to earn the support of peers and the party.
The strained relationship between the party and the family, however, has not shown any signs of straightening out. “The sons will really have to cosy up to the high command to get their share. As there is no dearth of second rung leaders in the state, Yediyurappa’s family will not be treated with any special consideration,” the leader said.
The party also has to keep the 16 MLAs who joined it from the Congress and the JD(S) in 2019, happy, he added.
Many to Stake Claim
While those leading the crusade against Yediyurappa are Yatnal, Bellad and Yogeshwara, behind the scenes there are several BJP leaders who are happy with the turmoil that is rife in the state. “Yediyurappa is one among the leaders who helped build the party in the state. He still has the strong support of 70 to 80 MLAs. Under such circumstances, those who want his chair are mostly silent. But the BJP has several leaders who can replace him,” the leader said.
Among those gaining from the political unrest in the state are R Ashoka, revenue minister of the state and a rising political leader of the party. Basavaraj Bommai, the state home minister, too could be a contender. Ironically, both have expressed their support for Yediyurappa.
Also sitting in the political 'green room' backstage, are other characters, including CT Ravi, national general secretary of BJP and four-time legislator from Chikmagalur. Ravi who is a Vokkaliga, may make the cut if he gets the support of a majority of MLAs. The Vokkaligas are a dominant community outnumbered only by the Lingayats. As Yediyurappa is a Lingayat leader who still enjoys the patronage of Lingayat seers, Ravi will have to wrest this support base from him.
In Karnataka most Chief Ministers have been from either the Vokkaliga or Lingayat communities.
Surprisingly, Pralhad Joshi himself, is considered one of the contenders for the CM’s post, given his clout in both the communities. Joshi has won the Dharwad MP seat, which is a Lingayat stronghold, four times. Now that Joshi, a Brahmin, has claimed on record that there will be no leadership change in the state, it is left to the party’s high command to propose his name. “It is believed that Joshi will be able to maintain an equidistance between the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas,” the national BJP leader told The Quint.
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa has been continuing with administrative matters as usual. On 8 June, he announced a relief package of Rs 2,000 for over 2 lakh street vendors in the state.
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