From A Clerk to 3-Time Karnataka CM: Yeddyurappa’s Bumpy Ride

Yeddyurappa started his career as a clerk and entered political sphere in 1973, as a councillor in Shikaripura.

4 min read
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From the humble beginnings of working as a clerk in the state government to becoming the chief minister of Karnataka and getting mired in a huge corruption controversy, BS Yeddyurappa’s political career has taken many twists and turns.

With the Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala inviting Yeddyurappa to form a government and prove majority within 15 days, Yeddyurappa has gone on to become the chief minister of the state once again.

Born to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma in Mandya’s Boonankere village on 27 February 1943, Boonankere Siddalinagappa Yeddyurappa completed his bachelor’s degree in arts and went on to work as a clerk in the state government’s department of social welfare.


After quitting his job, Yeddyurappa went to Shikaripura.

He took up a job as a clerk at the Veerabhadra Shastri’s Rice Mill, where he fell in love with the mill owner’s daughter Mythra Devi.

He opened up a hardware shop after marrying Mythra Devi but this did not satisfy him.

A young Yeddyurappa was quickly drawn towards the RSS and became a karyakartha. He was later appointed as the Sangh’s Shivamogga district chief. In 1973, Yeddyurappa officially entered the political sphere when he was elected as the councillor of the Shikaripura Municipal Council. He went on to getting elected once more as the councillor in 1977.

Yeddyurappa shot to fame in the late 1970s when he took up the cause of landless agricultural workers in Shivamogga district. Back then, he had prevented the state Forest Department from planting eucalyptus saplings in the lands which were given to these agricultural labourers as a part of the “Land to the tiller” scheme.

He also took up the cause of bonded labourers. He had led a team of 1,700 bonded labourers to the Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner's office demanding their immediate release and rehabilitation.


First Stint With The BJP

Yeddyurappa joined the BJP and in 1983, the same year that Siddaramaiah first contested Assembly polls, Yeddyurappa too contested from Shikaripura and won, thereby becoming an MLA.

Soon after, he was appointed as the Shivamogga district president of the BJP between 1985 and 1988. He was elected once more to the Assembly in 1985.

Yeddyurappa especially gained the people’s unbending loyalty in August 1987, when he travelled across Shivamogga district on a bicycle to take stock of the terrible drought which had struck the region. Yeddyurappa went on to urge the government to initiate drought relief works.

He was appointed as the BJP state President in 1988. He won the Assembly elections in 1989 and 1994. Yeddyurappa was appointed as a Member of Legislative Council in 2000 and remained an MLC till 2004.  

When he assumed that his prospects in the BJP were too bleak, considering his long stint as an MLC, and the BJP’s unwillingness to offer him the CM post, Yeddyurappa had also considered joining the JD(S).

However, this changed when he was given a ticket to contest the polls in the 2004 Assembly elections and projected as the CM face of the BJP.


First Taste of Chief Ministership – Just 7 Days

The BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 79 seats in 2004. The Congress had 64 seats and the JD(S) had bagged 58 seats. Yeddyurappa had then become the leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

Although initially the Congress and JD(S) had formed a coalition government, the JD(S) withdrew from the alliance and joined hands with the BJP.

Yeddyurappa had, in 2006, served as the deputy chief minister and finance minister. As per the power-sharing agreement between the JD(S) and the BJP, he had taken oath as the chief minister of the state in 2007. This lasted only seven days as Kumaraswamy was unwilling to let go of the chief ministerial position and the JD(S) withdrew from the alliance.


Second Run as CM Ends in Public Humiliation

In 2008, Yeddyurappa once again became the CM after the BJP emerged as the single largest party.

However, his fate was sealed after the then Tourism Minister Janardhana Reddy and his brothers got mired in the illegal mining scam. Yeddyurappa was made to step down and had wept in public at the loss of his chair.

Although it was the illegal mining scam that cost him his chief ministership, it was the illegal de-notification case which landed him in jai.

In fact, he became the first CM of Karnataka to be lodged in prison for breaking the law.

Following this, he had resigned from the BJP’s primary membership. As an MLA in 2012, he launched the Karnataka Janata Paksha before rejoining the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Yeddyurappa came back into state politics with renewed vigour after the crushing defeat faced by the BJP in 2013. By emerging as the single largest party in the latest poll, Yeddyurappa has shown that his support across the state has not weakened. But is that enough on the floor of the Assembly, and in the Supreme Court?

(This article was originally published in The News Minute.)

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