A day after he said his son BY Vijayendra would replace him in contesting the Shikaripura Assembly seat in the upcoming 2023 Assembly elections, former Karnataka chief minister and veteran BJP leader BS Yediyurappa seemingly walked back on his stance on Saturday, 23 July.
The “clarification” came after current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai met him at his residence on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by other BJP leaders, and held talks.
Subsequently, Yediyurappa told reporters, “Yesterday, I said that my son would contest from Shikaripura, but the final decision will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and (BJP president) JP Nadda.”
He added: “Their decision will be final. I can’t demand (a ticket for my son), and can only give suggestions. We will form the government in the state again.”
A day earlier, the 79-year-old Lingayat strongman rocked the state’s political scene when he hinted that he would hang up his boots and projected Vijayendra as his political heir.
Yediyurappa told reporters on Friday, “I am giving up my Assembly constituency for my son BY Vijayendra. I request the voters of Shikaripura to make sure that he wins with a huge margin. I will not contest the next election.”
He also said, “Please support Vijayendra in the same manner that you have supported me. Help him win by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes and affirm the development work we have done in this region. I will be travelling soon to the villages with Vijayendra to seek support for him.”
Yediyurappa resigned Karnataka’s chief ministership last year, following which murmurs of the Lingayat leader being sidelined by the party made rounds. Both Yediyurappa and the BJP, however, have denied any such development on multiple occasions.
Yediyurappa has won from the Shikaripura Assembly constituency eight times since 1983, while his elder son BY Raghavendra is a Lok Sabha member from Shivamogga.
Yediyurappa’s youngest son Vijayendra is currently the vice-president of the BJP in Karnataka, and is yet to make his electoral debut.
CM rushes to woo BSY
Bommai, who was in New Delhi on Friday when Yediyurappa made the bombshell announcement, rushed to meet him on Saturday afternoon in Bengaluru with a host of BJP leaders in tow.
After long discussions, the leaders gave their statements of “all is well”.
“BS Yediyurappa speaks his mind. When his supporters in Shikaripura urged him to contest the elections again from there, he said even if he didn’t, his son would,” Bommai told reporters, appealing that the issue be laid to rest.
“It was a suggestion since the people of the constituency demanded it. It is ultimately our strong central leadership that will take a call. Yediyurappa is our leader and he will guide the party. Our central leadership will take calls on candidates,” he added.
Yediyurappa’s Friday public announcement raised questions on whether the Lingayat strongman was firing warning shots at the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
“We had an engaging discussion with hearty laughter. I don’t remember the last time we had such hearty laughs during discussions,” said state Revenue Minister R Ashoka after the meeting, apparently in an attempt to insist that all was well between the party and Yediyurappa.
A history of complications
Yediyurappa’s posturing and subsequent backtracking came at a time when the BJP leadership was not showing any interest in considering Vijayendra’s poll candidature due to its perceived political stand against dynastic politics.
In the past, there have been attempts by Vijayendra to enter the state’s political fray.
In 2018, he lobbied to fight state polls from the Varuna Assembly seat in the Mysuru region, but he was stonewalled by the party.
Two months ago, another bid by Vijayendra — this time to be nominated as an MLC — was also thwarted.