Alladi Jayasri

Yediyurappa will sit on the treasury benches

Yediyurappa has been in politics for more than three decades The BJP made good gains when he was its State unit head He had been projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate in the elections

BANGALORE: Tipped to be the new Finance Minister as well as the Deputy Chief Minister, the Bharatiaya Janata Party leader B.S.Yediyurappa will be under the scanner as much for the first "saffron-tinged budget" that Karnataka will be presented with as for how he will make the transition from being a veteran Opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly to the treasury benches.

The man, who is always ready to lead a willing troop into the well of the House in protest against the Government's decisions, policies, and the handling of matters from flood relief to corruption, bureaucratic indifference to farmers' problems, already had a taste of his own medicine on January 27.

For a change, it was the Congress members who converged into the well of the House, while the members of the BJP and its new coalition partner, the Janata Dal (S) remained in their places, watching the Congress go down protesting.

Can the BJP handle success, is the question on everyone's lips, but Mr. Yediyurappa is the epitome of calm, cool confidence.

Intra-party bickering

He has already demonstrated his stamina to survive the long haul; in August last year he had to defend his turf within the party when BJP General Secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar brought the long simmering intra-party bickering to boiling point.

The intervention of BJP Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu was marshalled to broker peace, and extract an assurance from Mr. Ananth Kumar that Mr. Yediyurappa and other State-level leaders would be left free "to soldier on for the BJP's efforts to come to power."

Mr. Yediyurappa, and indeed the BJP itself, start their first ever stint in government in Karnataka with a clean slate, and he is acutely aware of being under the critical scrutiny of an electorate that sent the BJP to the top of a fractured verdict in May 2004.

'Shadow cabinet'

But the man who has loyally nurtured his constituency of Shikaripur is also very articulate, argumentative, and most Congress or JD (S) members will readily concede that they need preparation to give replies to the searching questions that he raises in the House.

He contemplated installing a "shadow cabinet" in the BJP, soon after the 2004 elections, which however never saw the light of day.

That would have meant, for every Minister in the Congress-JD (S) coalition, there would be a BJP "minister" tracking him, keeping tabs on the progress of development, finances and spending, and the administration in general.

Today, it could just come in useful to the team of 17 from BJP who will become his ministerial colleagues.

Mr. Yediyurappa, who has been waiting in the sidelines for more than three decades for his moment in the sun, has been helped by the fact that even when the chances of the BJP making it big were remote, he was projected as the chief ministerial candidate.

Mr. Yediyurappa was born at Bukanakere in K.R. Pet of Mandya taluk on February 27, 1943. After enrolling in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1965, he chose Shikaripur as his constituency, where he went on the become President of the Town Municipal Council in 1977.

He entered the Legislative Assembly in 1983, with a massive majority, in the same year that the BJP made history by lending the support of its 18 legislators to the Ramakrishna Hegde Government. He served nine years as the State unit President, and even his most bitter critic will concede that the BJP's lotus bloomed in Karnataka under his leadership.