By Infusing Dynamism, Vibrancy Into Karnataka BJP BSY Proves His Mettle, Again
This is not the first time this dynamic leader exhibited courage in the cause of the common man. In1982, he led a 55-km padyatra from Shikaripura taluk to Shimoga, the district headquarters, consisting of thousands of bonded labourers who were released from the clutches of vested interests
“One man with courage makes a majority” is a time-tested saying, which has been proved right with respect to B.S.Yeddyurappa, former Karnataka chief minister and BJP strongman. This stormy petral of Karnataka politics infused the much-needed vibrancy and dynamism into Karnataka BJP by leading one of the two teams of the state BJP leadership during the 13-day Raitha Chaitanya Yatra, a tour of the party leaders throughout the state.
The programme had two objectives, (i) to highlight the callousness, irresponsibility and insensitivity of the Congress government headed by chief minister Siddaramaiah towards the problems of the peasants and (ii) to instill confidence among the farming community and re-kindle in them the spirit of self-respect in order to dissuade them from committing suicide.
In all, two teams of state BJP leadership, one led by Yeddyurappa and another led by Prahllad Joshi, state BJP President toured the length and breadth of Karnataka and addressed hundreds of well-attended rallies. The thrust and focus of the speech of the leaders were the same, calling upon the farmers not to commit suicide as the party will stand by them.
“A farmer is not a coward. He is a fighter. A farmer is rightly called Negila Yogi, a Yogi who works with a plough. But today if a farmer is committing suicide it is because of the helplessness in which he finds himself placed due to the criminal negligence and cruel indifference of the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah. This government is not only insensitive but also irresponsible,” Yeddyurappa, seething with anger, told Uday India immediately after one of the rallies.
He added, “We of the BJP have assured the farmers that we will stand by them. Our campaign has had a salutary effect. The alarming pace and disturbing frequency with which the farmers used to commit suicide has come down, though it has not yet stopped.”
Yeddyurappa, who has been rightly described as the champion of farmers, is known for his keen political acumen as his hands are always on the pulse of the common man. It was he who exhibited the courage to take on the Congress government in harshest words and was instrumental to give a clarion call to the people, “Congress Hatao, Karnataka Bachao” at a rally held in Mysore on September 13 that marked the culmination of the 13-day Raitha Chaitanya Yatra.
This is not the first time this dynamic leader exhibited courage in the cause of the common man. In1982, he led a 55-km padyatra from Shikaripura taluk to Shimoga, the district headquarters, consisting of thousands of bonded labourers who were released from the clutches of vested interests. Again, it was under his leadership the Karnataka BJP, for the first time in its history, mobilized about 50,000 farmers in Bengaluru city way back in November 1988 to protest against the then Janata Dal government. That was the beginning of the BJP’s ascendency in electoral politics.
Once again when the BJP fell short of three seats by winning only 110 seats in the 224-member Assembly in 2008 elections, Yeddyurappa demonstrated his courage when he went on to “prevent the subversion of democracy” by forming the first-ever BJP government in Karnataka in 2008 with the help of independents.
“BJP had won 110 seats, three short of majority. The Congress had got 80 seats and JD (S) 28. There were six independents. The combination of Congress, JD (S) and independents worked up to 114. They could have formed the government which would have meant subversion of people’s mandate. We had to prevent this,”
Yeddyurappa had said, a day after he was sworn in as the chief minister. That only shows his political acumen and the swiftness with which this mercurial personality acts decisively.
Yeddyurappa is not wrong when he describes the Congress government as insensitive and irresponsible vis-à-vis farmers suicide. As many as 433 farmers have committed suicide during the last five months.
This dangerous trend commenced when Vittal Arabhavi, a sugarcane grower, committed suicide in front of Suvarna Soudha at Belagavi when the legislature session was on. Instead of taking precautionary measures as to why a farmer took the extgreme step, the Siddaramaiah government remained indifferent, except for taking some bureaucratic and clerical approach.
Yeddyurappa said, “Siddaramaiah government failed to realize the gravity of the situation, deep inside the psyche of the farming community. The moment Vittal Arabhavi committed suicide, the government ought to have taken both short-term and long-term measures to bring the farmers out of distress. The first thing the government could have done is to waive off the interest on loans of poor and marginal farmers, convert the loan into medium and long-term and stop loan recovery. But this government is in deep slumber. Our Raitha Chaitanya Yatra is a tool to whip this government out of its sleep.”
It is something inexplicable that farmers in Mandya district, which is highly irrigated region, have committed suicide. Yeddyurappa explained, “It is not the question of whether the region is irrigated or not. The burden of loan is what makes the farmer helpless, especially when there is no proper rate for the agricultural produce. The farmers are caught between, vagaries of nature and menace of middle-men. Market forces too play havoc. The government ought to do something but it has failed.”
There is an element of truth when Yeddyurappa says that the ministers have turned a blind eye to the problems of the farming community. The pro-activeness, dynamism and sensitiveness that ought to have been exhibited were conspicuous by their absence. It looks like that the ministers in Siddaramaiah government have developed ‘island mentality’, working in isolation.
According to Yeddyurappa, “Agrarian crisis is a hydra-headed menace. Monsoon plays truant, sometimes drought and sometimes flood; added to this is the menace of middle-men and absence of proper pricing mechanism. This hydra-headed menace will have to be tackled effectively only by multi-dimensional, multi-layered and multi-timed strategy. This government has no clue as to how to go ahead and face this problem. That is why I have given a call to the farmers to kick out this government and save Karnataka.”
Not known for wasting time and known for being on constant move from one corner of the state to another, Yeddyurappa,who is currently MP from Shimoga and national vice president of the BJP. He has persuaded the Karnataka BJP leadership to chalk out the second leg of the Raitha Chaitanya Yatra which is scheduled to commence from October 3. “This time, we will go to the taluk and hobli levels. The number of teams of the party leadership has been increased from two to five. We will ensure that the stoic Congress government feels the heat of BJP’s vigorous and rigorous campaign,” Yeddyurappa said.
That the party has been able to galvanise its cadre at the grass-root level needs no mention. Every taluk level president and mandal in-charge have been on the move to make the yatra success, which, in turn has made the organization vibrant and cadre robust, all due to the courage of one man, Yeddyurappa.
Is this a prelude to return to Karnataka politics as President of the state unit of the BJP and subsequently to get him-self projected as the chief ministerial candidate? “As you know very well, in our party’s style of functioning, I can decide what is good for the party. But I cannot decide about myself. What I should become is for the party to decide. As a loyal soldier of the sangh pariwar and the BJP, I will discharge any duty and responsibility that the Prime Minister and the president entrusts me,” he said and signed off the conversation.
Political analysts are of the view that Yeddyurappa is the only mass leader with keen political acumen who can hold sway over the people and the BJP would do well if it declares him as its chief ministerial candidate. The majority view within the party among the workers is also something similar which is not different from what the common man also thinks. The huge crowd that was present in the rally of the Raitha Chaitanya Yatra and the rapt attention with which it heard Yeddyurappa and others is a testimony for his mass appeal.
It remains to be seen whether the BJP central leadership go by the view of the masses and hands over the baton to Yeddyurappa or take a technical stand that he is yet to come out of the cases that he is fighting in the court filed by his opponents on the allegation of corruption.
A political analyst summed up very succinctly, “The biggest blunder that the Congress committed in the past was it made its regional leaders a puppet in the hands of the high command. Mass leaders were ignored. When the electoral base eroded, there was no body to hold on to obtain people’s support. This started happening many years ago. I hope the BJP’s central leadership does not commit the same blunder that was committed by the Congress in the past.”
By S A Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru