Perhaps it is not coincidental. BS Yediyurappa resigned as Karnataka chief minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party government, relinquishing the position he had been holding for the past two years. His quitting midway and before his tenure was to end happened repeatedly in his political career. This is the fourth and probably his final time. Several theories are floating around for his sudden and unceremonious exit. One such, party insiders claim, is that this is as per the “understanding” between Yediyurappa and the party top brass much before it was decided that the mantle of the only state in the whole of south India where the saffron party enjoys power would be handed over to someone else.
Prior agreement: Some even point out that initially, such “agreement” was limited only to a period of one year as Yediyurappa was already 75+. However, as the only exception in the whole country, according to him, he was allowed to continue for a year more, thanks to the magnanimity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda.
If so, why then did the chief minister break down in public at the banquet hall of the Vidhana Soudha while announcing his decision to quit? He choked as he spoke. In no time, he hastened to add that he was making the announcement not in regret but with joy. But for onlookers, it did not appear convincing.
Vijay and Surrender Divas: The chief minister’s first official engagement of the day was to participate in the Kargil Martyrs’ Vijay Diwas celebrations. He placed a wreath at the National War Memorial, saluted the national flag and turned up to the event organised to commemorate the completion of two years in office. It was at the fag end of his speech that he made the disclosure he was resigning.
In fact, his appointment with Governor Thaawar Chand Gehlot, who had rushed back the previous evening from the visit of Madhya Pradesh to receive Yediyurappa’s resignation letter, was at 3 PM today. But Yediyurappa did not wait for the appointed hour and made the announcement hastily.
The reasons put forth for the change in guard look strange. Yediyurappa has claimed he would stay in the state to ensure that the party returns back to power in the 2023 assembly elections while sending the maximum number of BJP Lok Sabha MPs in the 2024 parliamentary election.
What is intriguing, if he’s moving out to pave the way for young blood and new leadership and the party has developed a new practice of resting 75+ years old leaders, in what capacity can he remain in the party where his contribution will count?
Opposition leaders express displeasure: Yediyurappa’s exit has not disturbed his followers, admirers and sympathizers within the party alone. True to his nature and personality, people and leaders cutting across party lines have disapproved of the development. Probably for the first time in the state’s political history, top Indian National Congress (INC) leaders called on the chief minister to extend moral support to a BJP chief minister.
Shyamanur Shivashankarappa, nonagenarian and president of the All India Veerashiva-Lingayat Mahasabha, chose to forget his INC affiliation. Likewise did MB Patil, former INC minister, much to the embarrassment of other leaders of his party.
Even on 27 July, it was no different. KR Rameshkumar, former speaker and veteran INC leader, regretted the way Yediyurappa was stripped of the chief minister’s rank. Satish Jarkiholi, KPCC working president, decried the way the chief minister was unseated. However, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (also the leader of the opposition in the state assembly) said, “BS Yediyurappa is the most corrupt chief minister.”
Tamarind seeds to INC high command? In fact, Siddaramaiah has made it a habit to call Yediyurappa the most corrupt chief minister the state has ever seen. But till now, he has not disclosed whether he is sending Tamarind seeds to the party high command through AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, who is in charge of the INC in Karnataka, and to continue in power for a full five years term.
There have also been sporadic protests across the state over the development, with ordinary BJP workers weepingly challenging the prime minister to win the state without the help of Yediyurappa. What is being said in hushed voices may change into an uproar once the successor is announced.
BJP digging its own grave? Senior advocate K Vijaybhaskar Reddy opines, “BS Yediyurappa was doing a wonderful job as a chief minister. Whether it’s handling the Covid-19 pandemic or state affairs. At such an advanced age what more anyone could have delivered? You have no parallel in the whole state who could be compared to him. It looks the BJP is digging its own grave in the state.