Bengaluru: The BJP has played an ace card in the elevation of BS Yediyurappa to the BJP’s parliamentary board, breaking its own rule of not giving any post to leaders who have crossed 75 summers. The sudden promotion for the 78-year-old former CM is aimed to keep the Lingayats together and happy just eight months ahead of the Assembly elections.
For the Lingayat community, BJP’s vote bank, BSY is their best bet. Of late, the community has been expressing unhappiness and the Congress had tried to take a piece of the Lingayat cake by bringing in Rahul Gandhi who converted himself to a Lingayat through a special ‘deeksha’ or enunciation.
Congress has been trying everything it could to ‘neutralise’ the influence Yediyurappa wields on the Lingayat community ahead of the 2023 assembly elections by claiming BJP had treated him shabbily by removing him as CM a year ago. They had even sent Lingayat legislators – MB Patil and Laxmi Hebbalkar – as ‘emissaries’ to woo him.
All this worried the BJP because a disgruntled BSY can result in the saffron party bombing in the polls. But with BSY’s elevation, the Lingayat pendulum seems to have swung back to the saffron fold.
There are only three or four leaders in recent times who have held a pan-Karnataka sway over their individual communities. These include Mallikarjun Kharge (SC), Siddaramaiah (Kurubas), HD Deve Gowda (Vokkaligas), and BS Yediyurappa (Lingayats). Yediyurappa will be a rallying point for BJP in gaining the support of Lingayats.
But other Lingayat Congress MLAs say Yediyurappa’s elevation will have no bearing on the BJP’s fortunes. “I personally believe the Lingayat community is intelligent and will not blindly support BJP just because Yediyurappa has been given a top post,” KPCC working president Eshwar Khandre, a Lingayat, was quoted in the media.
“The internal strife in BJP is out in the open and people see this every day. The fire has caught everywhere, so what is the point in pouring water [Yediyurappa’s reemergence] now?” he added.
Priyank Kharge, the party’s communication chairman, even suggested it is a demotion rather than a promotion. “BJP is celebrating a lost cause and projecting Yediyurappa’s elevation to a Margadarshak mandal post as a promotion. People know it is a one-way ticket to retirement,” Priyank said.