Amid the escalating speculations that he is counting his days in office, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been unfolding a political game in the state from securing a strong backing from the powerful Lingayat community to displaying his clout through meeting the religious leaders. Being one of the oldest Chief Ministers in India, Yediyurappa is busy refreshing religious support. The speculations that he will resign as the Chief Minister on July 26 hold more weight even as the date nears, causing a political crisis in the state's own fashion.
Yediyurappa has been serving as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for the third time and it seems that he won't complete his term to the fullest even for a single time. Unprecedently, he has been running his government through dissidents from within the ruling BJP as several party leaders have been accusing the Chief Minister of indulging in corruption and they claimed that Yediyurappa's son Vijayendra has been interfering and dominating in the state administration. One of the MLA, who quitted Congress and joined BJP and supported Yediyurappa two years back, has become significant in levelling corruption charges against the Chief Minister.
Another section of BJP leaders had urged Yediyurappa to resign as the Chief Minister under the grounds of his age as they claimed that his age is not comforting him to discharging his duties as the Chief Minister and the leaders had also asked the Central BJP leadership to introduce a younger face to lead the state and to prepare for the 2023 assembly polls. With incessant dissidents against Yediyurappa, the BJP High Command had sensed that the party would collapse in the state if the dissidents grow further.
The high command began considering replacing Yediyurappa in its bid to retain the reign in Karnataka, the only South Indian state that BJP rules. Last week, the BJP leadership had called Yediyurappa to Delhi and his visit to Delhi had fueled the speculations that he would resign from the post of the Chief Minister. It was reported that Yediyurappa had offered to resign from the post citing ill-health when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The veteran Chief Minister was also said to have conditioned the BJP leadership to elevate his son to a top post in the party.
However, while addressing the reporters after meeting the Prime Minister, Yediyurappa had dismissed the reports over his resignation and asserted that he will continue as the Chief Minister. He also said that such reports were rumours. He also maintained the same when he reached Karnataka and after arriving in Bengaluru, Yediyurappa has been occupying headlines by causing a political stir through his meetings with the religious and community leaders.
Yediyurappa had reaffirmed the backing of the Lingayat community in the state. Lingayat community, which comprises 16 per cent of the state's population, is a potent community in the state and is the largest voter base for the BJP. Recently, Yediyurappa had met the leaders of the community and earned their strong support, making it the BJP difficult to replace him and to display that he is the power-centric in the state. For BJP, losing Yediyurappa's stronghold is equal to losing the Lingayat community- the strong vote bank for the Central ruling party that pillars the party's reign in the state.
Amid such developments, Yediyurappa had put out a suspense tweet on Wednesday in which he reposed his allegiance again to the party. He called him a loyal worker of BJP and appealed to everyone to act in accordance with party ethics. Taking to Twitter, Yediyurappa wrote, "I am privileged to be a loyal worker of BJP. It is my utmost honour to serve the party with the highest standards of ethics & behaviour. I urge everyone to act in accordance with party ethics & not indulge in protests/indiscipline that is disrespectful & embarrassing for the party."
While it was claimed that his tweet was in the fashion of thanking the party for offering him the post of Chief Minister in Karnataka, the political observers say that by calling him a loyal worker, Yediyurappa has made the BJP leadership face an ordeal in removing a loyal worker of the party from the post. Besides securing the support from the religious leaders, Yediyurappa has also got the backing of a former Congress minister, who belongs to the Lingayat community.
If BJP attempts to remove Yediyurappa as per the leaked audio clip of a BJP leader in which he was heard saying that the Chief Minister will be replaced soon, the Central ruling party would face a moment of hitting the wickets without disturbing the stumps, which would collapse the party in the state. Earlier on Wednesday, the religious leaders have warned the BJP against any move of removing Yediyurappa from power.
One of the religious leaders said, "Any government needs to be independent. But if the Central government keeps interfering, no Chief Minister can do his best. If the Chief Minister is changed often, it is difficult for officers to work. The Central government must consider this seriously and allow the Chief Minister to work." As it was speculated that Yediyurappa will be replaced on July 26, when he completes two years in office as the Chief Minister, he was been playing the political game in the state from enjoying the support from the powerful community to securing backing from the leaders of the rival party.
I am privileged to be a loyal worker of BJP. It is my utmost honour to serve the party with highest standards of ethics & behaviour. I urge everyone to act in accordance with party ethics & not indulge in protests/indiscipline that is disrespectful & embarrassing for the party.— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) July 21, 2021