Bengaluru, May 17
The return of B.S Yeddyurappa as Karnataka's Chief Minister on Thursday for the third time, reaffirmed his stature as the BJP's mascot in south India where it has been striving to spread its footprint over the last two decades.
The rise of Yeddyurappa, 75, to the top executive post from the ranks of being an ordinary activist in the right-wing Hindu organisation -- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been anything but smooth, as controversies dogged him throughout his five-decade-old political career.
When fortune favoured him to become the Chief Minister for the first time in October 2007 in the BJP-Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) coalition government, he lasted in the post for over a month, as the regional party (JD-S) withdrew support, resulting in its fall in November 2007.
Yeddyurappa became Chief Minister for the second time after the BJP came to power for the first time in south India on its own in the May 2008 mid-term assembly election, riding on a sympathy wave over the JD-S betrayal.
But his indictment by the state anti-graft watchdog (Lokayukta) in the multi-crore mining scam, however, forced Yeddyurappa to resign three years later in July 2011, denying him a full (5-year) term in the powerful office.
The BJP's hope of spreading its wings beyond Karnataka suffered a blow when Yeddyurappa left the party in December 2012 over differences with its then high command and floated a regional party - Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), which not only split the votes in the May 2013 assembly election, but also reduced the BJP's strength in the 224-member lower House to 40.
The return of Yeddyurappa to the BJP in late 2013 revived its fortunes as the party won 18 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats from the state in the 2014 general elections under his leadership. He also won from the Shivamogga parliamentary constituency.
On reprieve from the courts in various cases related to freeing of lands from government control (denotification) and his alleged involvement in the mining scam that rocked the state from 2001-2010, Yeddyurappa was made the party's state unit President and declared as its chief ministerial face ahead of the May 12 assembly elections.
As in the 2008 assembly election, when the BJP won 108 seats and fell short of 5 for a simple majority (113) in the 224-member house, the party could win only 104 seats in 2018, resulting in a short fall of 8 seats for the 112-half way mark to prove majority in the House of 222-members.
As the fractured mandate threw up a hung assembly, with the Congress winning in 78 segments and the JD-S in 37, Yeddyurappa staked claim to power on the strength of the BJP being the single largest party.
Though Yeddyurappa took oath as the Chief Minister for the third time on Thursday after state Governor Vajubhai Vala invited him on Wednesday to form the government and prove his majority within 15 days or by May 31, the Supreme Court's refusal to stay his swearing-in came as a huge relief to the Chief Minister and the BJP, which returned to power after 5 years.
Born on February 27, 1943, in Mandya district, about 100 km from here, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa (BSY) is upbeat on proving his majority on the floor of the House and completing the five-year term this time. Only time will tell if he proves to be lucky for the third time as Chief Minister.
The veteran politician won for the eighth time from the Shikaripura assembly segment in his home district of Shivamogga in the Malnad region.
After graduation in the early sixties, he joined the government service as a clerk in the state social welfare department but quit it soon and started a small-time business to sell hardware at Shivamogga.
His long-term association with the RSS and Jan Sangh since boyhood instilled a sense of hard work and pride to do social work and enter politics for public service.
Yeddyurappa was also jailed during the Emergency in the mid-seventies.
(Fakir Balaji can be reached at email@example.com)
The rise of Yeddyurappa as BJP's mascot in south India
Bengaluru, May 17