From a government clerk and a hardware store owner, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa became the chief minister of Karnataka four times, but never completed a full term even as he navigated the choppy waters of politics with all the tricks of the trade. This time too he was not allowed to complete his full term.
Yediyurappa’s tenure as CM includes seven days during his first term in November 2007; three years and two months from May 2008; for three days in May 2018, following the assembly polls, which was his third term; and finally for exactly two years since July 26, 2019, his fourth tenure.
He began his electoral politics as Purasabha president in Shikaripura, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times.
A diehard RSS swayamsevak, was born on February 27, 1943 at Bookanakere in K R Pet Taluk of Mandya district to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma.
Fondly called “Raja Huli” (King Tiger) by his followers, he joined the RSS when he was just 15, became an active politician with Jana Sangh, the BJP’s forerunner, in his hometown Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He became the Jana Sangh’s Shikaripura taluk chief in the early 1970s.
He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times from there.
Widely credited for BJP’s growth in Karnataka, along with being party’s state unit president, he has also served as opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly, member of Legislative Council, as also member of parliament.
A Bachelor of Arts, he was jailed during the Emergency, worked as a clerk in the social welfare department before taking up a similar job at a rice mill in Shikaripura before he set up his hardware shop in Shivamogga.
He married Maitradevi, daughter of the rice mill owner, where he worked, on March 5, 1967 and has two sons and three daughters. His wife died under mysterious circumstances.
His elder son B Y Raghavendra is a MP from Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency and the younger the BJP vice president of Karnataka. BSY’s weakness is Vijayendra who wields considerable influence over his father and money matters. He is a pushy leader, interferes in all major projects and is allegedly corrupt.
Yediyurappa wields considerable influence over the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which is estimated to form about 16 per cent of the state’s population, and is considered to be the BJPs core support base in the state.
He could have landed in the hot seat in 2004 when the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but the Congress and JD(S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda formed an alliance, and a government was formed under Dharam Singh.
Known for his political acumen, Yediyurappa joined hands with H D Kumaraswamy, Deve Gowda’s son, in 2006 and brought down the Dharam Singh government.
Under a rotational chief ministership arrangement, Kumaraswamy became the CM and Yediyurappa his deputy.
Yediyurappa became CM for the first time in November 2007 but his term lasted just seven days as Kumaraswamy reneged on a power sharing pact and walked out of the alliance.
He became the chief minister once again after the BJP came to power in May 2008 but had to step down in July 2011 following his indictment by the then Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde in an illegal mining case.
In the 2008 polls, Yediyurappa had led the party to victory, and the first BJP government in the south was formed under him, with the help of “Operation Kamala” (Operation Lotus) -- an alleged attempt of the BJP to engineer defection of opposition legislators to ensure the stability of the government.
On October 15, 2011, he surrendered before the Lokayukta court after it issued a warrant against him in connection with alleged land scams, and was in jail for a week.
Sulking after having been made to quit, Yediyurappa broke his decades-long association with the BJP and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha. However, he failed to make the KJP a force to reckon with in state politics but wrecked the BJP’s chances of retaining power in the 2013 polls, winning six seats and polling about 10 per cent votes.
As Yediyurappa faced an uncertain future and the BJP looked for a leader with a formidable reputation, he was called back leading to the KJP’s merger with the BJP on January 9, 2014.
In the Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 19 of the state’s 28 seats, a remarkable turnaround for the party which had secured only 19.9 per cent votes in the Assembly polls just a year ago leading to the fall of its first government.
Notwithstanding the corruption taint, Yediyurappa’s status and clout grew in the BJP.
The BJP declared him its chief ministerial candidate in the 2018 assembly polls, ignoring the taunts by the Congress.
As the polls threw up a hung verdict, with no party getting a clear majority in the 225-member House (including Speaker), the Governor invited Yediyurappa, the leader of the single largest party, to form the government and gave him 15 days to prove the majority.
However, the Supreme Court asked him to prove the majority in the House within 24 hours following a plea by the Congress-JD(S) challenging the Governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government.
The three-day-old BJP government collapsed on May 19, 2018, minutes before the scheduled trust vote, with him resigning in a tame anti-climax and hours later Kumaraswamy, the chief ministerial candidate of the newly formed JD(S)- Congress alliance, was invited to form the government.
He again engineered defections from the Congress and the JD(S) to form a government by rewarding the turncoats. That was the starting point of Yediyurappa’s downfall.
With such a chequered political history behind him, Yediyurappa is likely to chart his future the way he deems fit, not under anybody’s command.
BJP HAS TO PLAY CASTE CARD PROPERLY
Replacing Yediyurappa, the BJP risks losing the support of Lingayats, the party’s largest vote bank. The party hopes to win over the Vokkaligas, the other dominant community, to gain an edge over the JD(S) and Congress that are led by Vokkaligas H D Kumaraswamy and D K Shivakumar, respectively. Meanwhile, fresh demands are being made for a Dalit to be made the CM.
BJP’s loss of the Lingayat vote bank could be Congress's gain. KPCC President D K Shivakumar said that several MLAs and workers belonging to the Lingayat community are ready to join the party. The BJP leaders feel that the people of the Lingayat community is their asset. The Congress too has a galaxy of leaders belonging to the Lingayat community, he said.
Probably for various reasons, we could not get the majority (in the last state election). After all, there is agnipariksha (trial by fire) everywhere. I have faith that the party shall win 120-130 seats in the upcoming state assembly polls, whether I remain in power or not. —BS Yediyurappa
-- Joined RSS when he was just 15, became an active politician with Jan Sangh in his hometown Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He became the Jan Sangh’s Shikaripura taluk chief in the early 1970s.
-- A Bachelor of Arts, he was jailed during the Emergency, worked as a clerk in the social welfare department before taking up a similar job at a rice mill in Shikaripura before he set up his hardware shop in Shivamogga.
-- His elder son B Y Raghavendra is a MP from Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency and the younger the BJP vice president of Karnataka. BSY’s weakness is Vijayendra who wields considerable influence over his father and money matters. He is a pushy leader, interferes in all major projects and is allegedly corrupt.
8 He could have landed in the hot seat in 2004 when the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but the Congress and JD(S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda formed an alliance, and a government was formed under Dharam Singh.
Yeddy’s CM terms
He first became the Chief Minister on 12 Nov 2007 but had to resign just 7 days later on 19 Nov 2007. After this, he became the CM for the second time on 30 May 2008, but had to resign on 4 August 2011. Became the CM for the third time on 17 May 2018 and then resigned on 23 May 2018 just 6 days later. Became the Chief Minister for the fourth time on July 26, 2019 and resigned on July 26, after meeting the Governor.
-- BSY came to power for the fourth time in Karnataka after a series of defections brought down the JD(S)-Congress govt in 2019. Most of the 17 MLAs whose abrupt resignations plunged the govt into a minority joined BJP and contested polls. Many were made ministers.
-- Probably for various reasons, we could not get the majority (in the last state election). After all, there is agnipariksha (trial by fire) everywhere. I have faith the party shall win 120-130 seats in the upcoming assembly poll, whether I remain in power or not,” said BSY.
KAUN BANEGA CM?
There are many names doing the rounds, but the highcommand is aware that the new CM must be able to get along with the grand old man of the BJP in Karnataka – 78-year-old BSY.
Sources said party observers are likely to come to Bengaluru Tuesday, but it is well known that they will be coming with a name vetted and cleared by PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda.
While it will be a big task for the party high command to replace Lingayat strongman Yediyurappa, New Delhi is not averse to looking beyond the community, the major vote bank for BJP in Karnataka. The party is looking to balance the three major communities -- Lingayat, Vokkaliga and Brahmin communities.
Some names have been doing the rounds for a few days, but Tuesday a dark horse emerged -- Assembly speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, a six term MLA from Sirisi. A Brahmin, he has a clean record and has been conducting the Assembly sessions with authority. Incidentally he met the Governor Monday.
The others are:
1. Prahlad Joshi, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister. A Brahmin, his name gained prominence after a leaked audio of Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Katel spoke of the next CM coming from Delhi. Joshi (58), the four-time MP from Dharwad, is known to be close to PM Modi and other national leaders of BJP and the RSS. He led the BJP in Karnataka after Yediyurappa left the party and formed the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) in 2013. Joshi is considered as an able administrator and hence he was retained in the central cabinet. But Karnataka has not seen a Brahmin chief minister since 1988 as the Lingayats are against such a move.
2. Murugesh Nirani (56), a Lingayat from the dominant Panchamshali sect, he is currently minister for mines and geology in the state government. There has been a demand from the Panchamshli sect for the CM post, but sources said that the RSS does not favour him. But Nirani’s proximity to Shah might tip the balance in his favour.
The three-time MLA from Bilgi constituency in Bagalkot district, Nirani runs sugar and ethanol factories in the north Karnataka region.
3. Arvind Bellad (51), a two-time MLA and a young face, is the son of veteran RSS and BJP leader Chandrakant Bellad. He comes with a solid academic background with an engineering degree, PGDM in business management from INSEAD in France. He also comes from the Panchamasali Lingayat sect.
4. Basavaraj Bommai (61) is the current home minister of Karnataka and a close aide of Yediyurappa. Bommai, also from the Lingayat community, is the son of former chief minister S R Bommai and was considered the most likely one to replace Yediyurappa a few months back.
5. CN Ashwath Narayan (52) is the current deputy CM and comes from the Vokkaliga community. A doctor by qualification and maintains a good image in the political circle. He is an MLA from Malleshwaram, Bengaluru, since 2008 and was made dy CM reportedly after his successful involvement in the alleged poaching of MLAs from Congress and JD(S) to form the govt.
6. CT Ravi (54), again a Vokkaliga, served as a cabinet minister in the Yediyurappa government and became the national general secretary of the party. With a Sangh background, he is considered close to BJP’s national organisation secretary BL Santosh and other central leaders. He is a four-time MLA from Chikkmagaluru and a Hindutva hardliner. If BJP is serious in having a CM from the Vokkaliga community, Ravi fits the bill.
7. BL Santhosh, a mystery man and the BJP national organising secretary. He was earlier a full-time RSS volunteer from Karnataka. He was a powerful figure in charge of the party in Karnataka but does not enjoy a good relationship with Yediyurappa. He is a Brahmin from Udupi and had mysteriously gone silent for nearly two months only to surface in Bengaluru Monday. If the RSS interferes in the selection of the next CM, then Santhosh stands a chance, but that may upset many equations.
8. A dark horse.
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