Yediyurappa not removed, just gave way to generational change, says BJP chief Nadda 

Refuting accusations of running a polarising campaign, Mr. Nadda says it is minorities who have benefited the most from flagship welfare schemes

April 23, 2023 08:11 pm | Updated April 24, 2023 10:00 am IST

BJP president J.P. Nadda

BJP president J.P. Nadda | Photo Credit: PTI

Contrary to appearances, former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa was “not removed” but had given way to generational change, said BJP president J.P. Nadda.

Speaking to The Hindu, he reiterated that the former Chief Minister continued to play an important role in the party’s campaign in the State. “First of all, he (Yediyurappa) was not removed. Our party works in continuity and the elder generation always hands over the baton to the younger generation. Change is a continuous process that takes place, and it is a change of responsibility, not just of a post. Here, Mr. Yediyurappa has been given the new responsibility of being a member of the Parliamentary Board, and of the election committee, and his responsibility is also to see that the party wins the elections. Chief Minister B.S. Bommai and Yediyurappa-ji are campaigning together,” he said.

After speculation arose that Mr. Bommai might not be repeated in his post in case the party wins the polls in the State, Mr. Nadda said: “We are fighting the polls under the dynamic leadership of Mr Bommai. He is the chief minister and as you can see all our campaign material features him.”

‘People in Karnataka have an urge for development which they have seen Narendra Modi deliver’

The BJP will come to power on its own in Karnataka, under the leadership of current CM B.S. Bommai, party president J.P. Nadda told The Hindu’s Nistula Hebbar, in a wide-ranging interview that covered the BJP’s alleged communal polarisation, its high-profile rebels, and its promise to bring in development with a “double engine” government. Here are some edited excerpts of that interview.

BJP is the party in power in Karnataka; as such, what are the issues on which you feel you should be elected back in the State? 

We are talking of development by a “double engine” government, visible development especially in the realm of infrastructure — four-lane, six-lane highways and expressways, airports, and redevelopment of railway stations. People have displayed an urge for development which has been delivered by Modiji. The double engine concept is important in terms of last-mile delivery of governments working together. In the field of education, health, economy, start-up ecosystem, FDI, etc, Karnataka is at a point where the youth and other sections are looking at things with a high level of aspiration. The second part is empowerment, which is about the last-mile delivery of welfare schemes of the Central and State government, increasing the representation of SC/STs [Scheduled Castes and Tribes] in reservation, and there is a lot of appreciation in all these quarters. 

But you have also been accused of raising communally polarising issues like hijab, the legacy of Tipu Sultan et al. 

We haven’t done anything on our own. When you raise issues, we have to answer. For example, in this election, there is a debate on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its activities. Who initiated it? Congress always polarises and we answer. 

But your State unit chief Nalin Kateel also said things like, ‘Don’t look at roads, highways, but at Hindu consciousness issues’.

Everyone has their own way of putting things, but the fact remains that it is the Congress that seeks to polarise and we answer, and our answer is befitting. We are clear about justice to all, and appeasement of none. For example, if you look at the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana, or Kisan Samman Nidhi, minorities have benefitted the most. For the Sikh community too, Prime Minister Modi has done more than anyone else for the community. This is being appreciated too, there is a tremendous amount of love and respect for Prime Minister Modi. 

But removal of 4% reservation for Muslims in Karnataka sends a signal of not caring, which is contrary to Prime Minister Modi’s repeated exhortation to the party to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims. 

Everyone knows the credibility of Prime Minister Modi, what he says he will do, so the outreach to Pasmanda Muslims is happening and will happen, but that doesn’t mean that the only vehicle for the outreach is through reservation. How is it good, in this context, not to follow the spirit of the Constitution, and just give a slogan of reservations and be unable to, under the law, provide that reservation in practice?   

The BJP removed former Chief Minister Yediyurappa, then rehabilitated him in the Parliamentary Board et al. Is there a realisation that it was a misstep? 

First of all, he [Yediyurappa] was not removed. Our party works in continuity and the elder generation always hands over the baton to the younger generation. Change is a continuous process that takes place, and it is a change of responsibility, not just of a post. Here, Mr. Yeddyurappa has been given the new responsibility of being a member of the Parliamentary Board, and of the election committee, and his responsibility is also to see that the party wins the election. Chief Minister B.S. Bommai and Yediyurappaji are campaigning together. 

But there seems to be a scramble for Lingayat votes, after the exit of Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi in a huff, and that vote base looks shaky? 

We are very much sure that the Lingayats are with us. One thing you must remember that in the history of our party, from the Jan Sangh days, whoever has left the party has not prospered on their own or in any other party. Also, tell me, will they be getting a better position than they had here? One was the Chief Minister [Mr. Shettar], another was a deputy CM [Mr. Savadi] with at least five and half years left in his MLC term. When you leave the party, you also leave the ideology, and when you do that, how people perceive you is up to you to see. 

The Congress has demanded a caste census and a redistribution based on numbers. What is your view? 

First of all, Congress never has any issues, nothing to give to society, so they come up with issues that they think will get them some electoral benefit. We believe in sabka saath, sabka vishwas (with everyone, with the trust of all), and not in snatching someone’s right and giving it to someone else. Congress raising this issue is a sign that they have a poverty of a developmental agenda. 

Congress has attacked you on corruption and announced various income support and other schemes in their manifesto, a challenging set of issues. 

First of all, the promises made by the Congress reflect frustration; they will promise anything to be elected. Please see what they promised in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh; have they been delivered till now? They raised the slogan of “garibi hatao (end poverty)“ from the last 50 years, but to reduce abject poverty levels to less than 1% has been done by nine years of Narendra Modi’s government. The campaign on corruption was malicious as they were unable to prove anything. We, on the other hand, can list many such scams by the Congress in the State, like the Arkavati land scam, police recruitment scam, KPCL scam, and teacher recruitment scam. You spoke of Easwarappa: an enquiry was held and now the case is closed, and when one of our own MLAs was caught in a graft case, whose government do you think was in power? People know very well who is corrupt, people have heard on the mike, one leader confessing that his party president takes 12% commission.   

The BJP is keen to expand in the southern States, with PM Modi personally invested in cultural exchanges like the Kashi Tamil Sangamam. How is the party going to take on the entrenched Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu? 

People have seen what they have received under Dravidian politics and the corruption of the DMK. People have also seen Prime Minister Modi’s affection and regard for Tamil culture, language, and people. People are fed up of corruption, and only Prime Minister Modi has the strength to fight corruption, and the results of that will be seen in Tamil Nadu too. 

Q. Will Mr. B.S. Bommai be chief minister if your party comes back to power? 

We are fighting the poll under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Bommai. He is the Chief Minister and, as you can see, all our campaign material features him. 

There is talk that the BJP may tie up with the Janata Dal (Secular) if short on numbers. 

BJP will come to power on its own in Karnataka. We won’t need anyone to form a government in the state. 

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