Even as BS Yeddyurappa took oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday, the fact that he may have played a role in settling a 22-year-old score was perhaps not lost. In 1995, electoral mathematics combined with an internal rebellion failed the BJP under Prime Minister Deve Gowda.
In the 1995 Gujarat elections, the BJP won a whopping majority of 121 out of 182 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Godhra MP Shankersinh Vaghela was touted to be the Chief Minister of the state that saw the BJP coming to power for the very first time. However, Narendra Modi, the RSS pracharak who was central to the BJP win, threw his weight behind one-time mentor Keshubhai Patel.
Seven months later in October 1995, Shankarsinh Vaghela made his move. With the support of 47 BJP MLAs, he split from the party, forming the Rashtriya Janata Party. The RJP received the support of Congress, which had 45 newly elected MLAs.
BJP state unit head Vajubhai Vala watched as Patel’s government was dismissed by the President on the recommendation of Prime Minister Deve Gowda and Vaghela loyalist Suresh Mehta was invited to form the government.
Acting on the Prime Minister's advice, President Shankar Dayal Sharma promptly dismissed the Patel government and placed the state under President's rule. Vajubhai was the then Finance Minister of the state.
However, Vaghela lost his Lok Sabha seat in 1996. The Congress withdrew support in 1998 and the Assembly was dissolved. BJP was back in power with Patel returning as Chief Minister.
Even as Modi turned his attention to the Prime Minister’s seat in 2014, Vala was credited with handling the affairs of the state in Modi's virtual absence. Following his thumping victory in 2014, Vala was rewarded with the Governorship of Karnataka.
In a fateful crossing of paths 22 years later in Karnataka, Deve Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy of Janata Dal(Secular) stood at the precipice of chief ministership - with 117 MLAs in hand with the support of the Congress.
However, Governor Vajubhai Vala handed the mantle over to Yeddyurappa of the BJP.
Even as Yeddyurappa was sworn in, the scores appear to have been settled, at least for now.