Karnataka BJP’s seasoned oarsman relents, but too early for political obituary

News Network
July 26, 2021

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Bengaluru, July 26: There seems to be no "closure" for B S Yediyurappa, the BJP's "comeback man" in Karnataka, as he could never complete a full term in office, despite becoming the Chief Minister four times, surmounting odds.

It's also too early to write a political obituary of the 78-year old Lingayat strongman and the 24X7 politician, the face of the party in the State for decades.

From the humdrum existence as a government clerk and a hardware store owner to becoming the chief minister four times, Yediyurappa has navigated the choppy waters of politics with the consummate ease of a seasoned oarsman.

In a repeat of sorts, it is a "cut short" tenure for the rarely smiling and ever grim-looking Yediyurappa as he is stepping down less than two years ahead of the end of the current tenure, ascending to power, exactly two years ago after a murky legal battle and weeks of political drama.

For the architect of the BJP's first ever government to the south of Vindhyas, age is being seen as a primary factor for his exit from the top job, with an unwritten rule in the BJP of keeping out those above 75 years from elective offices; also the high command wants to make way for the fresh leadership, ahead of the Assembly polls, likely by mid-2023.

Among the other reasons that might have contributed to his exit include rumblings within the party with complaints about his "authoritative" style of functioning, his younger son and state BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra's alleged interference in the administration, and allegations of corruption.

Yediyurappa's tenure as Chief Minister 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.

A hardboiled RSS swayamsevak, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa 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 barely 15, and cut his political teeth in the 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.

Yediyurappa, who 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 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 elder son B Y Raghavendra is a MP from Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency.

Always seen in his trademark white safari suit, according to those close to him, he had keen interest in watching Kannada movies.

Yediyurappa is also seen as BJP's only leader with a "mass leader" stature in South India, and wields considerable influence over the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which is estimated to form about 16 per cent of the states 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, ploughing a lonely furrow, 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 to lend its campaign the required heft ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two cosied up to each other, 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.

On October 26, 2016, he got a huge relief when a special CBI court acquitted him, his two sons and son-in-law in a Rs 40 crore illegal mining case, which had cost him the chief ministership in 2011.

In January 2016, the Karnataka High Court quashed all 15 FIRs against Yediyurappa lodged by Lokayukta police under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In April that year, he was appointed the state BJP chief for the fourth time.

The Lingayat leader, however, continued to be dogged by controversies, with some cases against him still pending before courts.

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.

In the next over one year period, the BJP under Yediyurappa managed to keep the coalition government on tenterhooks as the ruling combine constantly feared poaching of MLAs.

In its best ever performance the BJP also won 25 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 parliamentary polls.

The resignation of 17 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs came as a blow to the alliance and it collapsed, losing the trust vote on July 23, 2019, paving the way for his return.

Determined to regain the reins of power, amid uncertainties about his political future with growing age, Yediyurappa is said to have played a key role in engineering the defection of the 17 Congress-JD(S) rebels.

Sixteen of them had subsequently joined the BJP.

He ensured that most of them won the bypolls in December that year on a BJP ticket, and 12 are currently Ministers in his Cabinet, as promised.

Though in the last two years, BJP won most of the bye-elections under Yediyurappa's leadership, repeated floods, alleged shortcomings in Covid management and growing disgruntlement within the party and the government, threw challenges to administration.

With growing age and strong central leadership, his declining sway over the party and administration, marred his final tenure, bringing him the criticism of being a "weak CM" from the Opposition parties.

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News Network
February 15,2024

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Mangaluru, Feb 15: A case has been registered by the police against five people, including two BJP MLAs, for allegedly inciting people and forcing students of the St Gerosa school in the city to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans.

Police sources on Thursday said the FIR, filed at the Mangaluru South police station, has named Mangaluru South MLA Vedavyas Kamath, Mangaluru North MLA Y Bharat Shetty, city corporators Sandeep Garodi, Bharat Kumar and Bajrang Dal leader Sharan Pumpwell as the accused.

The protesters were also accused of instigating enmity between the Christian and Hindu communities by directing their slogans against Christianity during the protest on February 12.

Considering the sensitivity to communal issues in Dakshina Kannada district, such actions could have created law and order issues, police said.

The case has been registered under sections 143, 153A, 295A, 505(2), 506 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The management of St Gerosa English higher primary school told the police that Kamath initiated a protest in front of the school without seeking clarification from them. It is alleged that students were forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram.’

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News Network
February 18,2024

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Kamal Nath, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress strongman, is mulling a switch to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the party's leadership denied him a Rajya Sabha ticket, India Today TV reported citing sources aware of the matter. 

"Kamal Nath is likely to switch to the BJP and the Congress leadership has made no attempts to reach out to him. Things have come to a knot with Kamal Nath actively lobbying for a Rajya Sabha ticket," sources aware of the matter said.

They claimed that Kamal Nath even met Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for a Rajya Sabha nomination. "The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister even hosted MLAs to endorse his nomination, but the leadership refused to blink," they added. 

Congress blames Kamal Nath for fall of MP govt

The sources, however, added that the party "bent backwards to please" Nath. They also blamed Kamal Nath and his "adamance" for the fall of the Madhya Pradesh government. These sources added Nath refused to cooperate with anyone sent from Delhi. 

"Senior leader JP Agarwal was shunted out because he (Kamal Nath) didn't want him as the in-charge and refused to corporate with him. Randeep Surjewala was given the assignment later, but Kamal Nath continued to have a one-way traffic as far as ticket distribution and campaigning in Assembly elections were concerned," the sources said. 

There were reports suggesting that Kamal Nath, along with his son Nakul Nath and other MPs may switch over to the BJP.

Kamal Nath on joining BJP

The speculations peaked when the former Madhya Pradesh CM arrived in Delhi on Saturday. While speaking to reporters, Nath said if there was any such thing, he would inform the media first.

"It is not about denying, you are saying this, you people are getting excited. I am not getting excited, this side or that side, but if there would be any such thing, I would inform you first," Nath said. 

Kamal Nath's close aide spills the beans

Kamala Nath's close aide Sajjan Singh Verma said: "Three things work in politics- respect, insult and self-respect, when these are hurt a person changes his decisions... When such a top politician who has done a lot for Congress and the nation in the last 45 years, thinks of moving away from the party, then all three factors work behind it. No decision has been taken that Kamal Nath ji is going, right there is just speculation..."

MP Congress on Kamal Nath-BJP reports

The Madhya Pradesh Congress on Saturday refuted rumors of party veteran Kamal Nath and his son, MP Nakul Nath, defecting to BJP. PCC president Jitu Patwari, during a press conference, dismissed the news about former CM Kamal Nath as baseless.

He emphasized the long-standing relationship between the Nath family and the Nehru-Gandhi family, dating back to the 1970s. Patwari recounted Nath's 45-year political journey, highlighting his seven-year tenure as Congress president in Madhya Pradesh and his steadfast support for the party.  

"In his political career of 45 years, he spent the last seven years as president of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh," Patwari said. "He stood shoulder to shoulder with all of us Congress workers and stood firmly for the party in every situation.  By imbibing the ideas of the people, he led us to perform our duties fearlessly while playing the role of the opposition," he said.

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News Network
February 15,2024

Bengaluru, Feb 15: Days after a group of farmers from Karnataka travelling to Delhi for the ‘Dilli Chalo’ farmers’ protest were detained by the Madhya Pradesh Police, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday sought the intervention of his MP counterpart Mohan Yadav.

According to the farmers, they were detained by the police in the early hours of Monday as the train they were travelling in to reach Delhi approached the Bhopal railway station. Prominent farmer leaders such as Badagalapura Nagendra and Kuruburu Shanthakumar were among those from different parts of Karnataka who were stopped by the Bhopal police.

In his letter to the Madhya Pradesh CM, Siddaramaiah said the detention of the farmers was a violation of their constitutional rights. “It has been four days since the farmers were detained and yet they have not been released. It is now learnt your police authorities are shifting them to Varanasi. Travelling to Delhi to participate in a peaceful protest is the constitutional right of the people,” the Karnataka CM said in his letter.

“It is highly unfortunate that farmers who are seeking better policies are being arrested and ill-treated by police authorities in Madhya Pradesh. I request you to personally look into this and get the farmers released without shifting them from place to place,” he said.

Soon after the farmers were detained in Bhopal, Siddaramaiah lashed out at the Madhya Pradesh government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trying to suppress the farmers’ struggle.

Siddaramaiah said on social media platform X that the Narendra Modi government’s action against farmer protests might only lead to more farmers taking to the streets. “Looking at the current actions of Narendra Modi’s government, it seems their main aim is to intimidate the farmers into submission,” Siddaramaiah had said.

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