This is the third time that BS Yeddyurappa has been sworn-in as the chief minister of Karnataka. The Lingayat leader, who was the first person from the Bharatiya Janta Party to become the CM of a south Indian state, is a seasoned politician with an eventful career.
The 75-year-old is considered to be the man behind the BJP’s latest achievement of coming out as the single largest party in Karnataka where Assembly elections were held on 12 May.
The BJP won 104 of the 222 seats that went to polls. The results came out on 16 May.
Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa, also known as BSY, became the chief minister of Karnataka for the first time in 2007. But he could not hold on to the post as his government fell. He became the CM for the second time when he led his party to victory in the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections.
A lot has since happened in the state politics, of which BS Yeddyurappa has been an integral part. His politics and the knack for making news have kept him in the reckoning all the while. The BJP’s biggest face in the state event left the party once to form another, only to come back bigger.
From a clerk in a rice mill to the man holding the top legislative post in the Karnataka government, BSY is not known to have ever kept a low profile.
Let’s take a brief look at his political journey.
A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh man from his college days, BS Yeddyurappa became a Karyavaha (Secretary) in 1970.
BSY, who had been sent to jail during Emergency, has been a full-fledged BJP leader right since the party came into being in 1980. He entered the electoral politics in 1983, when he was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, and has since represented the Shikaripura constituency six times. In 1999, he lost the elections but was nominated to the upper house of the Karnataka legislature.
In 2004, he won again. An alliance of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had formed the coalition government that year with Dharam Singh, an Independent MLA who was close to JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda, as the chief minister. Yeddyurappa was appointed the Leader of Opposition, but catapulted himself to power after a few months.
BSY supported JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy to bring down the fragile coalition government in 2006, and they formed an alternative coalition government. As per the power-sharing agreement chalked out between them, Kumaraswamy was to be the chief minister for the first 20 months, after which Yeddyurappa was to assume the post for the remaining 20 months of the tenure. Yeddyurappa became the deputy CM as well as the finance minister in the government led by Kumaraswamy.
In October 2007, when it was his turn to become the CM, Yeddyurappa’s hopes were dashed as Kumaraswamy refused to relinquish his post.
BSY and all BJP ministers resigned at once. On 5 October 2007, the BJP formally withdrew support to the government, and the state came under President’s rule.
The JD(S) and the BJP, however, decided to bury their hatchet. On 7 November 2007, President’s rule was revoked, clearing the decks for Yeddyurappa to become the CM of Karnataka for the first time.
On 12 November 2007, BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka.
The truce between JD(S) and BJP, however, didn’t last as there were disagreements on sharing of ministries, and Kumaraswamy refused to support the BSY government.
The seven-day CM resigned on 19 November 2007.
Karnataka went to Assembly elections in 2008. Yeddyurappa contested from Shikaripura again, this time against former CM S Bangarappa of the Samajwadi Party, who had the backing of the Congress and the JD(S).
They, however, could not stop BS Yeddyurappa from wining the seat by a margin of over 45,000 votes. The BJP got a historic mandate and that opened the gateway for the party in south India. On 30 May 2008, BSY took oath as chief minister for the second time.
During the time Yeddyurappa was in power, an illegal mining case suffered. The Karnataka Lokayukta was investigating the case involving Yeddyurappa and others who were accused of illegally profiteering from land deals in Bangalore and Shimoga. The Lokayukta was also probing an illegal iron ore export scam in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts of Karnataka.
The Lokayukta submitted its report in July 2011 indicting Yeddyurappa in both cases. The report said the BSY government caused a Rs 16,085-crore loss to the state exchequer between 2006 and 2010 due to the large-scale illegal mining. His family was also directly named for receiving “donations” from a mining company.
The Lokayukta report also named Reddy brothers from Bellary — G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy — besides mining company owner and MP Anil Lad and his wife.
BSY came under pressure from the BJP central leadership to quit CMship, and he resigned on 31 July 2011. Like all his moves, he carefully planned this moment as he walked into the Raj Bhawan to tender his resignation along with 70 MLAs. It was raining heavily on that day and at that moment.
More than a year later, on 30 November 2012, alleging mistreatment by his party, he also resigned from his position as MLA and the primary membership of BJP.
He launched the Karnataka Janata Paksha, a party that he had registered in April 2011.
In May 2013, he was elected as MLA from Shikaripura constituency.
Up north, the political situation was changing rapidly with the UPA government looking set to exit. The BJP was preparing a massive re-entry into Parliament as the ruling party, and needed to strengthen its base across the country.
BJP needed BSY in Karnataka, which was its biggest stronghold in the south, and was able to eventually woo him back. After declaring his unconditional return in November 2013, BSY announced the merger of his party with the BJP on 2 January 2014, just ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
He contested the Lok Sabha election and won from the Shimoga seat by a huge margin of 363,305 votes.
BS Yeddyurappa is now back at the helm of the state again. However, he still has a sword hanging on his head — the floor test when he will have to prove he has got the majority. Will BJP manage an Operation Kamala again and the required numbers to form a stable government? After swearing in for the third time as CM, BSY must be keeping his fingers crossed. Will he be able to complete his term this rime around?