In 2021, when BS Yediyurappa was forced to resign as chief minister of Karnataka, the BJP was confident it could win the 2023 Assembly elections without the leadership of the Lingayat strongman.
Clearly, the saffron party’s plans have not unfolded as predicted.
With its internal surveys throwing up reality checks on the state of affairs for the party and government in Karnataka ahead of the Assembly elections, the BJP has decided to woo Yediyurappa and seek his guidance and leadership for its campaign.
The initiative is being headed by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, party sources said.
South First had reported on how BS Yediyurappa was miffed over the way he was being treated by the party’s state leadership.
Quick to do some damage control, and understanding fully well the influence Yediyurappa still wields in Karnataka politics, BJP is taking corrective measures to keep the Lingayat strongman happy.
Prime Minister Modi had a special meeting with Yediyurappa, who is also the BJP Parliamentary Board member, at New Delhi recently.
“After the BJP National Executive meeting, PM Modi held a meeting with Yediyurappa. He sought support and guidance from the former chief minister… in order to bring the BJP back to power in Karnataka,” BJP Vice President Laxman Savadi told South First.
Pictures from the National Executive meeting in Delhi. pic.twitter.com/VVfRhm3E1d
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 16, 2023
With poll surveys suggesting the BJP will lose a chunk of its traditional Lingayat vote bank, the party high command is apparently seeking Yediyurappa’s help to win back the community’s support in exchange for his son BY Vijayendra’s political future.
The internal surveys show the party losing considerable Lingayat vote share, especially in the Kalyana Karnataka region. With Yediyurappa leading the campaign in problem areas, the party hopes to retrieve lost ground.
Stating that BJP is strategically seeking assistance from Yediyurappa, Lokniti national coordinator and political commentator Sandeep Shastri told South First: “Having Yediyurappa on the right side is very critical for the BJP. They have chalked out strategy in such a way that they achieve a balance in the role of the former chief minister in the party.”
“The party does not want to bow down to his demands; at the same time it wants him to be on its right side. They have also realised the importance of Yediyurappa to the party in the state.”
“The party wants to send a message that the central leadership is in control. Ever since the current leadership has taken control in the party, they are very clear about dynasty politics,” opined Shastri.
On reports of the snubbing of Yediyurappa, Savadi, however, said: “Yediyurappa is our leader and there is no question of either ignoring or sidelining him. The high command has sought the help of the former chief minister to ensure the party’s victory in the Assembly polls.”
High command orders
In the two-day BJP national executive meeting held at Delhi on 16 and 17 January, the party high command asked all state party units that have election in 2023, including Karnataka, to chalk out strategies and blueprints for their campaigns.
“The central leadership has given a clear message to as many as nine poll-bound states, including Karnataka, to intensify the preparations for the Assembly elections. It has directed the state units to chalk out proper plans for the poll campaigning,” Savadi told South First.
“The high command has left the decision to the state leaders to decide in which regions the central leaders, including the prime minister, must campaign. The blueprint will be chalked out after the state executive meeting, which is likely to be scheduled shortly.”
On a proposed Ratha Yatra, Savadi said: “The central leaders are expected to be part of this yatra. This will be held in the four different regions of the state. The route and places of the yatra are yet to be finalised.”
“This Ratha Yatra will be different from the Jana Sankalpa Yatra because the party is likely to make poll promises and release its manifesto for the Assembly polls,” added the former deputy chief minister.
State performance report
In the BJP national executive meeting, Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai presented a report on the state government’s performance and the party’s recent activities to the high command.
“The party has taken many vital political decisions in the national executive. The states that are going for polls have presented reports before the high command. We gave detailed reports from booth level programmes to organisations,” Bommai told reporters at Delhi.
ದೇಶದ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆಯ ಪ್ರಧಾನಿ ಸನ್ಮಾನ್ಯ ಶ್ರೀ @narendramodi ಅವರ ಉಪಸ್ಥಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾಗೂ ಪಕ್ಷದ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷರಾದ ಶ್ರೀ @JPNadda ಅವರ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ದೆಹಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಬಿಜೆಪಿ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರೀಯ ಕಾರ್ಯಕಾರಿಣಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಗವಹಿಸಿದೆನು.@BJP4India @BJP4Karnataka pic.twitter.com/5PmtW2TpBp
— Basavaraj S Bommai (@BSBommai) January 17, 2023
“I will face the polls without an anti-incumbency wave in Karnataka. The negative publicity against the government has not made any impact,” Bommai contended.
“We are receiving overwhelming response for the Jana Sankalpa Yatra. After the budget session, which is scheduled in mid-February, the party will hold a Ratha Yatra,” he added.
On the suggestions made by the high command to Karnataka, Savadi said: “There were no specific recommendations by the central leadership. They have directed the government to ensure that all the major programmes and schemes are implemented at the district, taluka and village levels.”
“The high command also sought reports on the outcomes of the Mane Manege BJP (BJP at People’s Doorsteps), Booth Vijay campaigns and other drives carried out by the party. It asked the state leaders to work on strengthening the party at the grassroots levels,” Savadi said.