Bengaluru: BJP’s 75-year-old Lingayat leader B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday took over as the 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka. After a brief prayer to the sun god in the morning preceded by a drama-filled night, the oath of office was administered by Governor Vajubhai Vala at 9 am in a brief ceremony. He took oath in the name of god and farmers. Interestingly, within hours of taking oath, he announced that he will soon waive off crop loans of farmers across the state in sync with the BJP election pledge.
Celebrations broke out in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka after the oath taking, even as the Congress and the JD(S) vowed to remove Yeddyurappa from office within 24 hours. The Congress also threatened massive and widespread protests across Karnataka. Soon after the swearing in ceremony, the Congress headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Ghelot, Venugopal and Siddaramaiah went straight to the Vidhana Soudha and sat in protest.
It was rather ironic to see the former CM Siddaramaiah, who proudly occupied the thrown in the sprawling Vidhana Soudha for five years, sit meekly on the steps in protest. While analysts and experts condemned the BJP and BSY, the saffron party has a reason to be in a hurry. The BJP is looking far ahead at next year’s general elections. The BJP is keen on keeping the Lingayats (the largest community) in central and north Karnataka, the hard core Hindu loyalists in coastal Karnataka, the Backward Class and SCs in Hyderabad-Karnatak region and the neo voters in Bengaluru happy. These are areas from where the BJP got its seats and support. In 2019, the party wants to consolidate these vote banks.
Handing over the CM chair to the Lingayat community’s rival H D Kumaraswamy, a Vokaliga, would be seen by the BJP vote base, especially the Lingayats who wear their hatred for Vokaligas on their sleeve, as a betrayal and an insult to the mandate. Unlike the geographical spread of the BJP, the JD(S) got its vote only from its traditional region – Old Mysuru region. The BJP knows that whatever they do, they will never be able to make a chink in the Vokaliga belt in the Old Mysuru region.