BSY odyssey to pinnacle
It is the saga of struggle and sacrifice that has made Yediyurappa what he is today – a tough task-master; a conscientious legislator, a pan-Karnataka mass leader, drawing strength from all sections and strata of society. An embodiment of rural rusticity, the political journey of this leader with a keen and sharp political acumen from a remote Bhookanakere village in Mandya district to the portals of Vidhana Soudha via Shikaripura in Shimoga District, is an amazing story by itself.
Yediyurappa left Bhookanakere, the village in which he was born, at an early age and went to Shikaripura to work in the Rice Mill of one Shivamurthy Shastry, a well-to-do agriculturist. He was sent to Shikaripura by the RSS bigwigs when he had come in contact with the Sangh during his brief stay in Srirampuram, a lower middle-class locality in Bangalore. As he was found to be dynamic, Yediurappa was asked to go to Shikaripura to expand the RSS work. Shimoga, was at that time, had accepted RSS in a big way and the region needed some vibrant and dynamic youths to enable the RSS to take strong social roots. Yediurappa was, obviously, the right choice.
The selection of Yediyurappa by the RSS to depute him to Shikaripura was the first peak that he scaled. And then there was no looking back. Next, he was appointed as the Taluk Karyavaha of the RSS for Shikaripura taluk which was his another peak point in public life. Finding him to be pro-active, the RSS bigwigs decided to lend his services to the Bharatiya Jana Sangh which was in its infant stage but had shown enormous potential to grow into a big political force.
The appointment of Yediyurappa as the Secretary of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh of Shikaripura taluk was yet another peak point for this dynamic leader. That was his baptism in political life. The Jana Sangh, which was regarded as the party of urbanites and upper castes, slowly started showing to take social roots with Yediyurappa working with the peasants and agricultural labourers.
His interaction with the masses, especially the dalits and peasants, enabled him to win the elections to the Shikaripura Municipality, which, by any means, a very significant peak which he scaled, solely based on his struggle and sacrifice. That was the first time in in his political life that he became an elected representative. His unanimous election as the President of Shikaripura Town Municipality is yet another peak that he scaled by the dint of his perseverance and performance as “people’s leader”.
That Yediyurappa had become a cynosure of the masses can be made out from the fact that he won the election on Jana Sangh ticket, the party that was hardly well-known. But at the time, that he had also become an eye-sore to his political opponents can be made out from the fact that he was subjected to murderous attack in the outskirts of Shikaripura when he was returning to the town on bicycle. Presuming that he is dead, the attackers left the place. Destiny wanted him to live and scale many more peaks!
Yediyurappa was arrested during the emergency and lodged in Jail like many of his colleagues, both in the RSS and the Jana Sangh.
With the merger of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh to become part of the un-divided Janata Party, Yediurappa, like many others, found himself in the Janata Party. He continued his struggle for the cause of peasants, tribals and the bonded labourers.
This “would-be” stormy petral of Karnataka politics, scaled yet another peak with his appointment as the District President of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1981. His courageous step to take out a 55-kms padayatra along with 3000 bonded labourers from Shikaripura to Shimoga fully transformed him into a political leader with mass appeal. That was yet another peak that he scaled.
The 1983 elections to the State Assembly was the turning point and Red-Letter Event in the political career of Bhookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa. He was elected to the State Assembly with a record margin of 43,000 and odd votes. He defeated the then sitting minister and Congress strongman Yenkatappa. That was the first time Yediyurappa entered the lower house of the State Legislature.
Assembly witnessed the voice of peasants and agricultural labourers in BSY; he took up the cause of Bagarhukum (unauthorized cultivators) in a big way. He single-handedly fought against the draconian law that the Janata Party government had brought with Late B. Rachaiah, as forest minister, piloting the bill. Yediuyurappa’s relentless battle with missionary zeal enabled Rachaiah to withdraw the bill. That was yet another peak that this “darling of kisans” scaled.
Yet another big peak that Yediyurappa scaled was when he was appointed as State BJP President in February 1988. Under his dynamic leadership, the BJP’s influence started expanding to nook and corner of the state. Hitherto anorganizational party, the BJP became a cadre-based mass party; hitherto urban based party of upper castes – that was the perception – the BJP, under BSY, became the party of Kisans, tribals and rural masses.
The victory of the BJP in four Lok Sabha constituencies in the 1991 Parliamentary Elections and 40 seats in the Assembly in 1994 hustings were two significant peaks that BSY scaled. His election as the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly in the aftermath of the 1994 elections, was momentous in BSY’s political career. No doubt, that it was a great peak that he scaled.
These two historic developments proved that that both BJP and Yediyurappa had arrived in the political spectrum of Karnataka and are going to stay.
BJP stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K.Advani, Dr Murali Manohr Joshi, Khushabhav Thakre, K. Jana Krishnamurthy, Sundar Singh Bhandari – all hailed BSY as the future CM of Karnataka for his dynamism, pro-activeness, organizational prowess and his uncanny ability to evolve strategies besides mobilizing the masses.
The “strategic alliance” that BSY struck with JDS Leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to form a 20:20 coalition government in 2006 with himself as Deputy Chief Minister in-charge of Finance Portfolio, was a great peak that he scaled. This surprising development also proved that BSY is a past-master in the art of delivering political strokes with mathematical precision.
The coming into the government of Yediyurappa – first time in his political career spanning of over four decades – transformed him to become an excellent, tough administrator capable of taking decisions and evolving pro-people schemes. All his pro-people concerns – be it for the kisans, agricultural labourers, rural women, youths – got manifested in the form of many schemes.
No less than Vajpayee and Advani appreciated Yediyurappa for his pro-active and progressive projects aimed at transforming the state into a model one.
Yediyurappa came to be recognized by Narendra Modi, who was at that time was ruling Gujarat as Chief Minister. BSY’s keen political acumen and ability to convert challenges into an opportunity came to the fore when he took out a yatra and played victim card in the aftermath of the refusal on the part of H.D. Kumaraswamy to hand over the baton as per the 20:20 agreement.
The year 2008 Assembly elections was the first stepping stone to peak the pinnacle of political glory.
The BJP won 110 seats, just three short of the required number for majority, With the help of friendly legislators, Yediyurappa formed the government and became the Chief Minister of the first-ever BJP government in the Deccan Plateau, South of the Vindhyas.
That Narendra Modi, in his capacity as Chief Minister of Gujarat, came down to Mysore to prevail upon the ministers about the intricacies, nuances and pitfalls of governance is a proof of the importance the Central Leadership attached to Yediyurappa, which, by any means is a peak point in BSY’s political career.
Top BJP Ministers at the Centre, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Late Sushma Swaraj, Late Arun Jaitley and others have great respects and regards for Yediyurappa for his transparent approach; hard work; perseverance; dynamism and pro-activeness not to mention of his ability to come out with pro-people policies.
A lad hailing from a family that suffered from abject poverty – not from any illustrious political or economic background – entered public life through the RSS and got baptism in politics through the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and scaled many peaks struggling to reach the pinnacle of political glory, is a saga by itself.
Everyone see the pinnacle of BSY’s political glory but nobody has been able to see the arduous path that he has traversed in his long political innings of over five decades. BSY, indeed, has become a phenomenon and a legend in his own life time.
By S. A. Hemanth from Bengaluru