Karnataka Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has no credible face in the southern state so they have again "started holding hands" with BS Yeddyurappa (BSY).
The MLA also alleged that Yeddyurappa was not planning to retire but was made to resign
"BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) was not planning to retire, but he retired to make a BSY-free BJP. When they learned that there is no credible face in BJP, they again started roaming around holding hands with Yeddyurappa", MLA Kharge said.
Talking to ANI, Kharge asked, "If he (Yeddyurappa) really has potential why don't they (BJP) give him a ticket?"
Aiming to win the upcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka, the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party is counting on the experience and popularity of the former chief minister Yediyurappa, an influential Lingayat leader. Lingayats are the single largest community in Karnataka, account for nearly 17 per cent of the population, mostly in the north Karnataka region, and have traditionally voted for the BJP.
Basavaraj Bommai, the present Karnataka chief minister is also a Lingayat leader.
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Earlier in January, a top BJP leader told ANI, "Lingayat votes hold the key for our party and without a doubt, BSY is one of our most popular Lingayat faces and we are banking on him to take the saffron surge forward."
In the organisational changes implemented last year, in August 2022, the party appointed the former Karnataka CM to the parliamentary board - the top decision-making body of the party. Political analysts view his inclusion in the parliamentary board as reflecting the strategy of the party's central leadership as banking on Yediyurappa to win the next Assembly elections.
"When the party decided to ask BSY to step down last year, he did so without any fuss and has accepted whatever responsibility that the organisation has entrusted to him. That's the mark of a seasoned politician," another leader said.
It may also be noted that it was a strategic decision by the BJP party to send BSY to Gujarat as a central observer to the recent victorious state of Gujarat for picking the leader of the legislative party. Senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, B S Yediyurappa and Arjun Munda were appointed as central observers for the meeting of the party's new MLAs in Gujarat to pick the next chief minister.
"His utility and sharp political acumen can come in handy to the party in the whole of southern India and therefore his entry into the BJP parliamentary board makes sense," a BJP MP from the state said.
Speculations are rife that the veteran politician would like to see his younger son BY Vijayendra contest the upcoming state polls, from his own constituency Shikaripura. However, the final decision still lies with the top bosses in Delhi. The senior BJP has been an MLA from Shikaripura eight times.
"His mobility is another crucial factor for a state he knows too well. He has his ears to the ground and is constantly touring the state. His feedback is taken seriously by those who matter in the party, a senior office bearer of the party told ANI.
The Vokkaligas community which has close to 14 per cent of voters in the state have been a traditional vote bank for the HD Devegowda-run Janata Dal-Secular party (JD(S)) and is said to be a weak area for BJP in southern Karnataka.
"We have seen the emergence of several leaders from the party like R Ashok Ashwathnarayan and CT Ravi amongst some others. But we are still to find the Yediyurappa of the Vokkaliga community for ourselves, " a state leader said, arguing that the saffron party is all-inclusive and not restricted to just the Lingayats.
The BJP was able to breach the JDS stronghold only in 2019 when the BJP was successfully able to poach the Congress JDS MLAs and topple the HD Kumaraswamy-led government.
He was able to bring BJP to power in 2008 for the first time in Karnataka. He resigned in 2011 as CM after being marred in a case of corruption only to be acquitted in 2016. After forming his own political outfit, he after a brief period merged it with BJP and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Shimoga and won the same.
He later contested to win the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls when he took oath as Chief Minister for two days and then resigned because the party was unable to prove a majority.
A year later, BSY was able to stage a coup and 18 MLAs jumped ship to BJP from the opposition Congress and JDS and Yediyurappa became CM for the fourth time in his career.
In another turn of events in July 2021, the veteran under the instructions of the party's top brass stepped down as CM to make way for Basavaraj Bommai. Yediyurappa has also served as the BJP Karnataka president on three occasions.