Former chief minister B S Yedyurappa’s proposed tour of the state is worrying the state BJP leadership which feels that it can lead to confusion in the minds of the party supporters and cadres.
While Yedyurappa plans to discuss the tour details with the BJP leadership here, ostensibly the idea behind his tour, expected to start next week, is to prepare the ground for his ambitious son, B Y Vijayendra , what with the state assembly polls scheduled for 2023. His associates believe that he will play a crucial role in these polls besides the Lok Sabha elections of 2024.
A section of the party leadership, however, feels that Yedyurappa’s tour plan may have more to it than meets the eye . Especially , even after leaving the chief minister’s post, he still commands substantial influence among the voters, particularly the Lingayat community which he represents.
BJP’s national general secretary for Karnataka, Arun Singh, who was touring the state last week, did ,however, seek to play down the yatra ,stating that it would do good for the party. Additionally, senior BJP leader and union home minister, Amit Shah, even went out of his way in Davengere this week to praise the former chief minister’s role in strengthening the party and how he would continue to play an important role in strengthening it.
According to him, Yedyurappa has done an excellent job during his term as chief minister , adding that ” if at all the era of development began in Karnataka, it was under Yediyurappa’s rule. ” He also went on to say that it was the former chief minister who had himself decided that a new leader should be given responsibility in Karnataka ,which is why Basvaraj Bommai was appointed as his successor.
At the same time, Shah’s message to the party leaders and cadres alike that the BJP would retain power by romping home in the 2023 assembly polls under Bommai, did leave a lot of state leaders unhappy.
Some of Yedyurappa’s close associates , including former chief minister Jagdish Shettar and rural development minister , K Eashwarappa, did express concern at Shah giving prominence to Bommai for the 2023 polls. In fact, it is learnt that Yedyurappa himself was upset over these remarks as he believed that the party would fight the polls under a collective leadership where his role would be important as well.
It was not surprising, therefore, to learn that Bommai spent a fair amount of time convincing Yedyurappa while discussing the political situation in the state last Saturday. He is also believed to have convinced the veteran leader about his allegiance to him.
Nevertheless, these developments have added to the concerns of some BJP leadership and Bommai supporters here who believe that Yedyurappa could well use his state tour to his advantage,considering that he has not retired from politics. Party insiders believe that while the BJP can ill afford to antagonise Yedyurappa, his determination to ensure a leadership role for son Vijayendra, is adding wrinkles to the faces of the party leaders at the national level and in the state as well. This explains their concern over the former chief minister’s yatra which they can ill afford to stop.