It is no secret that BS Yediyurappa, who was hurried off from the CM’s seat in July by the BJP High Command, is keen to reaffirm his position as the tallest BJP leader. And he had kept the BJP High Command worried for some time since he announced that he will undertake a statewide tour to ensure the party’s return to power in the 2023 Assembly elections. And just when the party seemed to have contained the threat of him going on a statewide trail alone with his sons, he had fired an unexpected salvo which had taken some by surprise.
Yediyurappa was addressing party workers at a working committee meeting held in Davanagere, when he told the media that the state BJP cannot rely alone on the Modi wave to come back to power in the 2023 Assembly elections. "No doubt the BJP will come to power in the next Lok Sabha elections in 2024 under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. But, the party should be strengthened to ensure victories in all elections," he emphasized.
A missive has been sent to the party high command by the party state unit led by Nalin Kumar Kateel, according to political observers. This incidentally also for the first time Yediyurappa who has himself towed the party line of hailing the duo of Amit Shah and Modi by and large has made such a statement. He also asked party workers to be conscious of the Opposition and not take their potential lightly either for the upcoming byepolls in two seats.
Since 2014, when the BJP stormed to power at the Centre, projecting Narendra Modi has been the key strategy for the BJP in gaining or retaining power across the length of the country. Even in Karnataka, the only state in south India where the party has been in power before primarily due to Yediyurappa’s popularity, the Modi factor had played its fair share too.
Political analysts in the state say that it is a sign of things that continue with assembly elections due in less than two years. “It will be a tug of war with a plum position between Yediyurappa and the High Command. Already in this bargain, Yediyurappa has been able to install his loyalist as the CM. The High Command also knows that they cannot antagonise Yediyurappa much as he has been able to win elections on his own before 2014 and he still holds the key to a significant pie of vote share.”
He added, “Sunday’s statement is a sign of how seasoned a politician he is. His statement was directed at workers in the interest of the party and in all probability true without overtly making it about him.
They point out it is obvious that this state wide tour has the potential to transfer the popularity which he currently enjoys to his sons, particularly Vijayendra, especially among the influential Lingayat community. And such an outcome will put the entire exercise of removing Yediyurappa from the CM’s seat in vain.
But Yediyurappa’s statement also is a bid to stay relevant in state politics, says a BJP leader. “Yediyurappa has announced that he will tour the state from the first week of August but the BJP high command has not yet given clearance for that. They worry that he will try to undermine the current CM. But for Yediyurappa, keeping in touch with the voters is very important, he needs to stay relevant,” the leader adds.
Another source close to Yediyurappa adds that while he cannot be seen interfering in administration, he is intent on maintaining his position as the BJP’s biggest vote-catcher in the state and he needs to keep reminding the leadership of that. The latest statement is a step in that direction.