Never-say-die leader who has given BJP a firm hold in south

BS Yediyurappa
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BS Yediyurappa

Highlights

Chief Minister Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa is considered most powerful leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka for building the party from scratches.

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa is considered most powerful leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka for building the party from scratches. It was never easy for the saffron party to gain a foothold in south India as it is the strong hold of regional parties and the Congress. But BSY has achieved an impossible task.

Born in a poor family, Yeddyurappa started his political career as president of taluk Janasangh in Shikaripura , Shimoga district in 1972 at the age of 29. He was elected as councilor of Shikaripura municipality in 1975. He entered the Assembly by winning Shikaripura constituency in 1983 and he never looked back.

BS Yeddyurappa conceived "Operation Lotus" to bring the BJP to power in Karnataka. In 2008 BJP had fallen short of just three seats to gain power. Yeddyurappa lured independent and Congress legislators to the BJP through "Operation Lotus" and formed first-ever saffron government in south India. But his 38-month rule between 2008 and 2011 was chaotic with internal strife and charges of corruption. The mining scam did him in and he was forced to quit as CM in July 2011. A few weeks later, he was sent to jail briefly in a land scam case, denting his image. The opposition still mocks him as 'Jailurappa'.

His rule also marked several firsts. He took oath in the name of farmers and presented an agriculture budget for the first time in the country.

He was credit with introducing Bagyalakshmi scheme under which Rs 10,000 was deposited in the name of a girl child of a BPL family. This scheme became popular and brought fame to Yediyurappa. He also launched free bicycle scheme for high school students.

In later years, he left the BJP following rift with party leaders and formed Karnataka Janatha Party. In 2013 he faced election but failed to get a base for his party, but managed to garner sizeable votes from the BJP dominated areas. Later he returned to the BJP.

In 2018 the BJP declared him as chief ministerial candidate as he enjoyed support among a large number of farmers and his own Lingayat community. However BJP secured only 104 seats. Though Yeddyurappa took oath as chief minister, he failed to prove majority. Again Yeddyurappa swung into action and managed to engineer defection of 17 MLAs from the Congress and JDS coalition government through "Operation Lotus" and formed government. In another master stroke, he made sure that the MLAs resigned from Assembly and seek reelection to avoid attracting anti-defection law.

He faced strong resentment from senior party leaders when he kept his promise and inducted the MLAs defected from Congress-JDS coalition into his cabinet. Yeddyurappa convinced the high command that he promised them ministerial berths for bringing down the coalition government and helping him gain power. Two years at the helm was no bed of roses for the veteran leader as he had to face several tough challenges including devastating floods, debilitating Covid-19 pandemic and disgruntlement within the party.

Crops in thousands of acres and property were washed away in the floods and thousands of people became homeless.

Yeddyurappa introduced one percent interest loan scheme for farmers and organized tours for them to China and Isreal to learn advanced farming techniques.

Though he promises to work for the party and help it come back to power in the coming elections, the question how the party is planning to use his services remains unanswered going by the fate that befell such tall national leaders of the BJP as L K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Yeshwant Sinha, Jashwant Singh.

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