Reporter/Producer: Pratiba Raman
Video Editors: Pawan Kumar, Purnendu Pritam
“Yediyurappa ji is busy travelling. I don’t think he is ready for an interview.” This was the constant response from the BJP leader’s office.
After a month of relentless tours, BS Yediyurappa, the man who opened BJP’s gateway to South India, was back in his Bengaluru abode to greet Central Home Minister Amit Shah for breakfast.
A video of Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra greeting Amit Shah proved to be the perfect answer to a statement made by BJP's National General Secretary CT Ravi.
“Vijayendra’s ticket will not be decided in the kitchen, but during a national meeting,” Ravi had said.
Well, was Vijayendra’s role discussed over breakfast? When Yediyurappa spoke to The Quint, in an exclusive interview, he said, “It is the national leadership that will decide on Vijayendra’s role. Be it Vijayendra or anybody else, we will discuss it in the core committee meeting in Delhi. The same rules will apply for all. About the video, Amit Shah has great respect for Vijayendra."
Was Yediyurappa Sidelined in the BJP?
Having covered about 60 to 65 constituencies in Karnataka so far, the campaign leader is confident of BJP’s success in the upcoming election. “Public response is more than our expectation. I am 101 percent confident that we will get an absolute majority without depending on other parties,” Yediyurappa claimed.
With corruption charges clouding the party under Basavaraj Bommai’s regime - from the commission scam to MLA Madal Virupakshappa’s son landing in Lokayuta trap, Yediyurappa insisted:
“These are false allegations. Everybody knows that. In fact, we have filed a complaint with the Lokayukta against Congress’ Siddaramaiah and others. There was a lot of corruption when Siddaramaiah was the chief minister. They are now unnecessarily blaming our party. There is no truth to it.”
Is Yediyurappa being used for this election, only to be sidelined later as one of the ‘Marg Darshaks’? “No,” was his instant response. “That is not correct. Everybody knows I resigned from the chief minister’s post. And it was my decision not to contest the assembly election. I also told the people of Karnataka that I will be touring the entire state to help the BJP come back to power. And that is what I am doing,” Yediyurappa explained.
Incumbent CM Basavaraj Bommai recently stressed that he will come back as the chief minister post election. However, media reports point to the fact that Central leaders do not favour Bommai. Will the man, who was Yediyurappa's protégé, continue to play second fiddle to the former CM? “According to me, Bommai is doing very well as the chief minister. He will naturally occupy the same seat or post for the next term as well,” declared the Lingayat strongman.
Yediyurappa on Tipu vs Savarkar
Be it Hijab or the Halal, BJP’s Hindutva narrative and supposed polarisation tactics did grab headlines in Karnataka. Yediyurappa had earlier expressed his unhappiness over these issues. “Our stand is very clear about Hindus and other communities. My point has always been to ensure there is brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims. Other things are left to them,” he maintained.
With Tipu vs Savarkar gaining heat in poll-bound Karnataka, Yediyurappa could be the perfect Muslim connect for the BJP. “Let us not compare Muslims and Savarkar,” he replied, adding that he has immense respect for Muslims as well as “Veer Savarkar ji.” But, he sure was careful not to mention “Tipu Sultan.”
With a sumptuous breakfast that ended with Vijayendra stealing the show, Yediyurappa seemed comfortably poised on the couch. If not for BJP’s victory, perhaps he is set to fight for his legacy and his son Vijayendra.
(Pratiba Raman is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru.)