BSY’s sway will hold the key in Karnataka
The extraordinary outreach underlined the BJP’s plans ahead of the polls and showed that despite his retirement from electoral politics, Yediyurappa remains a key player
Since he first entered the Karnataka legislative assembly in 1983, BS Yediyurappa has been the mainstay of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, helping the party establish its first southern beachhead in the state. Whether it is the party’s first taste of power in 2006 or its first full majority government two years later, Mr Yediyurappa used his understanding of ground realities, community base, and ability to manoeuvre rival blocs to steer his party in the state. As the tallest Lingayat leader of his generation, he was able to mobilise the community – comprising about 16% of the state’s population and holding sway in about 100 of the 224 seats – into a BJP base. His impact was felt most in 2013, when he left the party after being asked to step down as chief minister (CM) following corruption allegations, floated his own outfit, and took away around 10% of the votes, clearing the way for a Congress victory.
This is why Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s rally in Shivamogga on Monday was significant. The PM heaped praises on the former CM, garlanded him, draped a shawl around him, and placed a turban on his head. The extraordinary outreach underlined the BJP’s plans ahead of the polls. It showed that despite his retirement from electoral politics, Mr Yediyurappa, popularly known as BSY, remains a key player in the state. The ruling party has appeared riven by internal dissent and a string of controversies has dogged CM BS Bommai. The BJP is hoping that BSY’s stature will help sustain its appeal and nix the Congress’s plans of wooing the Lingayats. Whether this becomes a reality is for the electorate to decide.