BJP sweeps bye-elections in Karnataka: B S Yediyurappa: DECCAN’S TALLEST SAFFRON LEADER
Karnataka is known for defying national conventions. If the nation-wide voting trend is for national parties, then the people have chosen regional formations in the past. This has happened many times in the past. Karnataka BJP too seems to have caught up with its trend vis-a-vis its units in other states. While the BJP’s performance in some parts of the country has not been as much impressive as it was expected, the saffron party in this part of Deccan defied its convention and won 12 out of the 15 Assembly seats in the bye-elections held on December 5.
In other states, most of the leaders who quit their respective parties and joined the BJP bit the dust whereas in Karnataka 12 out of 15 who quit Congress and JDS to join BJP won the elections. This almost-near-impossible feat was achieved largely due to the towering personality and charismatic leadership of chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa. The BJP, as an organisation, too contributed in its own way to push the party’s prospects.
With this phenomenal success, Yediyrappa, once again proved, that he is not only a pan-Karnataka mass leader but the tallest saffron leader of the Deccan Plateau.
The wheel of destiny turns. It is the same Yediyurappa who ensured the defeat of the BJP in 2013 when he walked out of the party and formed his own outfit, KJP. While his outfit won only six seats, this Lingayat strongman, however, managed to poll 11 per cent of votes. BJP was reduced to 40 seats in that 2013 hustings. BSY returned to the party in 2014, thanks to the initiative taken by Narendra Modi, who was at that time chief minister of Gujarat. Yediurappa won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Shimoga and was made the President of the state unit in 2016, keeping the 2018 Assembly elections in mind.
However, the BJP failed to get simple majority in the 2018 Assembly elections, though it emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats. The Congress and JDS joined hands to form a most un-natural government in an un-ethical manner that had no electoral legitimacy.
The resignation of 17 MLAs from both the Congress and the JDS due to the “atmosphere of suffocation” – “step-motherly treatment” – “indifference of their respective party’s leadership” (these are the three reasons given by the MLAs) ensured the collapse of the H.D. Kumaraswamy government for good. With the numbers of both Congress and JDs coming down, BJP was the automatic and natural choice for the Governor to call Yediyurappa to form the government and prove majority, which he did comfortably.
But it was an onerous task on the part of the BJP in general and BSY in particular to get the elected the leaders from Congress and JDS on BJP ticket in order to ensure political stability. Yediyurappa’s whirlwind tour of the 15 constituencies more than two times turned out to be the catalyst for the people to decide in favour of BJP.
The master-strategist that Yediyurappa is he coined a slogan – simple and straight – that proved to be the gamechanger in favour of the BJP. He said, “single-party stable government is the need of the hour to ensure rapid economic development. Vote BJP” This caught the imagination of the people, who were fed-up of political instability and frequent internal bickering between the Congress and the JDS.
Speaking with Uday India after the party’s fantastic victory, Yediyurappa said, “My humble and sincere appeal to the people to give me a chance to complete the un-finished agenda of development has been endorsed. Now, I will put my best foot forward and walk that extra mile to see that Karnataka becomes a model state. I will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in so far as development is concerned”
The impressive victory of the BJP did not come easily, either. The saffron party had convince its cadre to work for those who had joined the party from Congress and the JDS.
Said Aravinda Limbavali while speaking with Uday India, “The biggest task was to ensure synergy between the party cadre and the supporters of the new-comers. We succeeded in this task as our cadre realised the importance of winning the elections in order to ensure political stability which was pre-requisite for development.” Limbavali, regarded as key player in handling election-related matters, was the overall in-charge of the bye-elections.
Having ensured the victory of majority of the 15 MLAs and thus gained political stability, yet another daunting task for Yediyurappa is to accommodate the new-comers in the cabinet. He had made an open promise that all the new-comers will be given ministerial berths. BSY has to convince the party’s state and central leadership about “the need” to accommodate the new-comers, at the cost of the old-timers who had strived for the party’s victory in the 2018 elections.
Said an old-timer and a ministerial aspirant on the conditions of anonymity, “It is true that the BJP came to power on account of the resignation of these 15 MLAs but it is also a hard fact that the BJP could form the government on account of its own strength of 105 for which we all have worked hard. Our service should not go unaccounted and unacknowledged. But it is all uncertainty.”
Yediyurappa, however, expressed confidence that things would be alright. “I am confident of handling the issue in a deft manner by ensuring a blend of the need of the new-comers and concern of the old-timers. I have the backing of the party’s Central Leadership as well as that of the organisation in the state. Together we will ensure the synergy of the old-timers and the new-comers,” the chief minister said. But he refused to elaborate on how he intends to go about in achieving this objective.
For the first time after 12 years, Karnataka has a singne-party government with a comfortable majority. People are looking forward for quality-governance with focus and thrust on infrastructure, both in rural and urban areas besides infusing energy to the social schemes. Yediyurappa has a herculean task ahead. But given his never-say-die attitude, his ability to accept challenges with his characteristic elan; the missionary zeal, meticulousness and the long-range vision with which he undertakes the developmental activities, Karnataka can hope for a qualitative revolutionary change in all spheres.
By S. A. Hemanth from Bengaluru