BJP parliamentary board member BS Yediyurappa hosted the Union home minister, who chaired a meeting on the Assembly polls there.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah hit two targets — the disgruntled Lingayat voters and baiters of BS Yediyurappa and his son BY Vijayendra within the party — with one smooth manoeuvre on Friday, 24 March.
Amit Shah stunned even BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa when he insisted on accepting a bouquet only from the former’s son BY Vijayendra as he arrived for a breakfast meeting at his residence in Bengaluru on Friday.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, BJP general secretary and Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh, BJP state-president Nalinkumar Kateel, and ministers Govind Karjol and B Sriramulu were also present.
As Bommai watched on, Amit Shah patted BY Vijayendra on the shoulders, held him close and flashed broad smiles at the cameras — the perfect optics for supporters as well as baiters of BY Vijayendra that the party’s senior leadership sides with him and his Lingayat strongman father.
Amit Shah was on a one-day visit to the poll-bound Karnataka. He has visited the state at least seven times this year alone, with the Assembly elections due in April-May.
Not only did Amit Shah insist on accepting the bouquet from BY Vijayendra first, but he also walked with Vijayendra inside the house.
Photos of Vijayendra — Karnataka BJP vice-president — carefully serving breakfast to Amit Shah were duly clicked and appeared to have been circulated with deliberate purpose.
Shah’s gesture towards Vijayendra comes against the backdrop of the latter’s public rift with BJP national general secretary CT Ravi over his candidature.
Shah’s endorsement of Vijayendra also comes at a time when the party’s internal surveys have suggested that the Lingayat community — a dependable vote bank for the BJP, especially as BS Yediyurappa belongs to it — was disgruntled.
“In the BJP, tickets are not decided in the kitchen,” CT Ravi had said in reference to BS Yediyurappa announcing his son BY Vijayendra as a candidate even before the party finalised ticket distribution. Vijayendra had retorted to Ravi without taking names.
If the public bickering by the leaders was seen as factionalism in the Karnataka unit of the BJP, Amit Shah on Friday sought to display which side the BJP central leadership would pick if the need arose.
It was an honour to welcome our Hon’ble Home Minister & beloved leader Shri @AmitShah Ji today
Sir, meeting you is a great uplift to everyone’s morale & your words have always been a source of inspiration for us. pic.twitter.com/Yhny1s97Mj
— Vijayendra Yeddyurappa (@BYVijayendra) March 24, 2023
Amit Shah began his day with the breakfast meeting, which comes weeks before the announcement of Assembly elections in Karnataka and in the midst of the party finalising its candidates.
Yediyurappa has been is gaining a lot of significance in the party of late.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only had a closed-door meeting with the Lingayat strongman in Delhi but also flew to Shivamogga not only to inaugurate the airport there but also to extend birthday wishes to the former Karnataka chief minister.
— Anusha Ravi Sood (@anusharavi10) March 24, 2023
Stating that Shah visited their house at the invitation of Yediyurappa, Vijayendra told reporters: “As the elections are around the corner, the leaders naturally held a detailed discussion on the political situation in the state.”
He continued: “They discussed not allowing a situation like a hung Assembly in the state for any reason, and that the BJP had to come to power with a clear majority by publicising the Central and state governments’ programmes at every house.”
In reply to a question, Vijayendra said, “After my father’s resignation as the chief minister, there were discussions about I being sidelined in the party, but Yediyurappa clearly stated the situation and the reasons for his resignation.”
He added: “After resigning as the chief minister, my father has been working with enthusiasm to bring the BJP back to power, and will continue to do so.”
All smiles after the Union home minister’s gesture, Vijayendra told reporters after the meeting: “Amit Shah spoke to me with a lot of affection. It has given me the strength of an elephant. It has given me more strength to work.”
On whether he would be contesting against senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah in Mysuru’s Varuna Assembly seat (if he enters the fray from there), he said, “The party’s central leadership will take the final call.”
There were reports earlier that Yediyurappa was upset as Vijayendra was not given any prominent position in the party and was not inducted into the cabinet by making him an MLC, after he stepped down as Chief Minister in 2021.
While announcing that he will not contest the Assembly polls, Yediyurappa in the same breath had said that he will be vacating his Shikaripura Assembly seat, from where Vijayendra will be contesting, if the high command agrees.
However, earlier there were reports that Vijayendra might be fielded to contest the Assembly polls from one of the seats in the old Mysuru (south Karnataka) region, where the party is considered to be weak. He too had expressed his interest in working in the region, if the party decides.
Vijayendra was denied a party ticket to contest from the Varuna constituency in Mysuru, at the last moment, during the 2018 Assembly polls.
His stakes increased in the party, and in the Old Mysuru region, as he was credited by many to have played a key role in the BJP’s first-ever victory in KR Pet and Sira Assembly segments, during the by-polls held in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
(With PTI inputs)