A little over a year after he quit the BJP after being sidelined in the light of corruption charges, former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was back in the party Thursday.
Completing a process that began following the anointment of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the BJP PM candidate on September 13 last year, the Lingayat strongman became a primary member of the party once again in a low-key affair at the BJP state headquarters here.
Returning to the BJP fold with Yeddyurappa were several supporters who had exited with him in December 2013 to form Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). Four of the six MLAs elected on KJP tickets in May last year, including Yeddyurappa, have now become members of the BJP. The remaining two stayed away.
Yeddyurappa claimed he was signing up again to help the BJP and Modi win maximum of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka in polls in a few months.
The former CM said quitting the BJP was a mistake that allowed the Congress to gain political ground in the Karnataka Assembly elections of May 2013. “Let us forget the past, end suspicion of each other and work together as children of one mother,’’ he told other BJP leaders, many of whom are wary of the Lingayat strongman returning to the domineering position in the party of his days as the CM.
“The party I built has suffered in my absence. I will rejoin my old party and tour the entire state to strengthen Modi and make him the PM,” Yeddyurappa had said a week ago, publicly declaring for the first time his return to the BJP.
L K Advani aide H N Ananth Kumar, considered the biggest obstacle in the path of Yeddyurappa, was the senior-most BJP leader at this official return to the party. “We will never separate again. We will be together. We will fight together,’’ he said. Yeddyurappa, 70, an RSS and BJP member for over 40 years, was forced to step down as CM in 2011 by the BJP parliamentary committee after he was indicted in a Lokayukta report on illegal mining and corruption.
Why bjp bet on BSY
B S Yeddyurappa remains unmatched in stature among Lingayats, the single-largest community in Karnataka
The Lingayat support was consolidated when he was CM during 2008-11 through doles and grants worth Rs 1,000 crore to religious institutions
In 2013 polls, his party grabbed 9.8 per cent of the vote share, bringing down the BJP to 19.95 per cent from a high of 33.86 per cent in 2008
The bjp, which won 33 of the 50 seats in the Mumbai Karnataka region in 2008, was reduced to 13 seats in 2013
It is these seats that the BJP hopes BSY will bring back to it.