Even as speculation is rife that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may field B.Y. Vijayendra in Varuna against Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, sources in the party said his father and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is lobbying hard to veto this idea seeking a “safe launch” for his son from his seat, Shikaripur.
In fact, when asked by media persons on Thursday whether the party will field Mr. Vijayendra in Varuna, Mr. Yediyurappa said “discussions were on and the party high command will take the final decision”. Without taking his son’s name, he only said it was difficult for Mr. Siddaramaiah to win this time and that the party would field a “suitable candidate” against him and give a tough fight.
It can be recalled that Mr. Vijayendra wanted to contest from Varuna in 2018 against Mr. Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra, but the faction opposed to Mr. Yediyurappa lobbied hard to deny him the ticket at the last minute. Given that Varuna has a significant Veerashaiva-Lingayat population and houses Suttur Mutt revered by the community, the BJP has come second with a good performance in the constituency since 2008.
Even from the Karnataka Janata Party, in 2013, Kapu Siddalingaswamy had secured 54,744 votes against Mr. Siddaramaiah. However, the Ahinda vote bank in the constituency is almost double the size of the Lingayat vote base, sources said.
However, in a changed scenario with Mr. Siddaramaiah himself contesting from Varuna, the same faction is now pitching hard for Mr. Vijayendra’s candidacy from the constituency, multiple sources in the party said. “Multiple surveys by the Congress and the BJP have indicated that it is tough to defeat Mr. Siddaramaiah this time. This is a conspiracy to nip Mr. Vijayendra’s career in the bud and we are countering it hard,” a close associate of Mr. Yediyurappa claimed.
This proposal has been the bone of contention between Mr. Yediyurappa and the camp opposed to him for some time now, prompting him to unilaterally announce that his son will take his place in Shikaripur, as early as July 2022.
“The father and son are very clear that the safe bet for Mr. Vijayendra will be Shikaripur. In fact, he has planned to begin his work in Shikaripur on Monday. Mr. Yediyurappa enjoys a good rapport with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and is a member of the BJP parliamentary board and the central election committee which decides on the ticket, and this time his voice will be heard and cannot be discarded,” one of his close associates said.
‘Giant killer’ tag
“But the Modi-Shah combine is known to spring surprises and if they indeed insist that Mr. Vijayendra contest from Varuna, he will. He will emerge as a ‘giant killer’ if he defeats Mr. Siddaramaiah. It will be a credit to him even if he gives a tough fight and is defeated,” he added. Sources said the former Chief Minister may seek a guarantee of his son’s political rehabilitation if he is defeated.