Against odds, Yediyurappa manages to stay afloat politically

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa  

When Bharatiya Janata Party veteran and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa celebrated his 77th birthday in February 2020, not many leaders, including those close to him, were confident that he would remain in the office for one more year. That is because the BJP central leadership had begun the process of searching for an alternative to replace the ageing leader. Now the BJP’s Lingayat strongman, who is celebrating his 78th birthday on Saturday, has upset political calculations of many leaders by continuing to stay in power and proving that he is a political survivor.

It is not that the party high command has set aside its plans to find an alternative leader. But the leadership is yet to zero in on any leader, considering it is not easy to find an alternative in the State which has its own divisions in terms of caste and regional identities.

“Everyone knows that Mr. Yediyurappa is getting old and the party needs an alternative leader who can revitalise administrative machinery through fresh ideas and energy. But it appears that so far it has not been possible to find such a dynamic leader,” observed a senior leader from the party State unit. “But it does not mean that Mr. Yediyurappa is completely safe as the sword of Damocles is hanging on his head since the central leadership has kept a watch on him in the wake of allegations of groupism, corruption, and nepotism,” the leader added.

Mr. Yediyurappa’s political detractors feel that any of these allegations transforming into a legal tangle may expedite the process of finding a successor. But his supporters hope that the party may not toy with the idea of replacing him if he manages to complete at least one more year in the remaining term of about two years. But there is a curiosity in both the camps about the high command’s next move.

Missed chances

There is a feeling among a section of the party strategists that several leaders let go off the opportunity given to them by the party to grow politically. “The opportunity for political growth started for many Ministers right from 2008. While some actually did well as Ministers, they could not build a political constituency,” observed a strategist.

Apart from the ability to understand the pulse of people, Mr. Yediyurappa’s advantage is that his detractors do not want to lose the government in the political tussle. In fact, the importance of being in power for the BJP was underscored by party national general secretary in charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, who recently asked Mr. Yediyurappa’s detractors to forget individual differences in the interest of the party ideology as the government had implemented and brought about laws in tune with party’s “core ideology” such as the anti-cow slaughter Act.

Carrot and stick approach

On its part, the high command appears to have adopted a carrot and stick approach as it has sent a message earlier by ignoring Mr. Yediyurappa’s fervent plea for ministerial expansion on the one hand and trying to pacify his detractors on the other. The game of suspense has continued with respect to leadership change as the party high command has kept both the pro- and anti-Yediyurappa camps on tenterhooks.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 8:36:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/against-odds-yediyurappa-manages-to-stay-afloat-politically/article33945894.ece

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