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Ahead of the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls, B Y Vijayendra, the younger son of the BJP’s Lingayat strongman and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, pushed to be fielded as the party’s candidate in Varuna in south Karnataka — a constituency then dominated by the Congress’s Siddaramaiah who was the chief minister at the time.
This was seen as an effort to establish Vijayendra, now 45 years old, as a rising political force in Karnataka BJP and an heir to the political legacy of his father. The move was also viewed as an effort to increase the BJP’s base in a region where it has played the third fiddle to the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).
In the end, the BJP leadership under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then party president Amit Shah rejected Vijayendra’s demand. The decision was dictated by the party’s resolve to move away from the dominance of regional satraps like Yediyurappa and transform into an organisation-driven unit. But Vijayendra’s supporters did not take kindly to the decision and staged protests outside a Mysuru hotel where senior BJP functionaries were staying. This left the party leadership unimpressed.
Little has changed in the BJP since the 2018 rejection of Vijayendra’s candidature and the call to selectively avoid dynastic politics has only grown louder since the Uttar Pradesh polls this year. This was one of the primary reasons why Vijayendra, currently a BJP vice president, was denied the nomination to become a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council on Tuesday.
According to BJP insiders, Vijayendra’s effort to become an MLC and gain entry to the state Cabinet was a serious one. He camped in Delhi for nearly four days last week despite it becoming apparent that the BJP would not like to field him in the council polls on account of the party’s stand against dynastic politics. With 79-year-old Yediyurappa, the BJP’s MLA from Shikaripura in Shimoga, and his elder son and Shimoga MP B Y Raghavendra (48) active in mainstream politics, it was a far-fetched notion that Vijayendra would also be introduced into mainstream politics, said BJP sources. On the flip side, the 2018 episode and the latest rejection are expected to strengthen Vijayendra’s case for an Assembly ticket in the 2023 polls if his father steps aside.
BJP central leaders have constantly encouraged Vijayendra, saying he is likely to play a big role in the party in the future. Amit Shah praised him after he organised a massive Lingayat show of strength last month in Tumkur for the birth anniversary of a seer. Sources close to Vijayendra have claimed in the past that Yediyurappa’s younger son was keen on practising clean politics and being an elected MLA rather than using the back door to enter mainstream politics through the Legislative Council.
But Vijayendra carries the baggage of playing the role of a “Super CM” when his father was at the helm of the state between 2019 and 2021. This also resulted in the attraction of corruption charges in government appointments and the award of state contracts. One of the primary reasons the BJP eased Yediyurappa out of the CM’s seat last year is believed to be his son’s interference in the administration.
On Tuesday, after the rejection of Vijayendra’s candidature for the June 3 MLC polls led to his supporters taking to social media to condemn the BJP’s decision, the BJP leader called on his supporters to fall in line with the party decision and bide their time.
“My party and our leadership have always encouraged and stood by me ever since I entered politics, by giving me an opportunity to work as Vice President of the party’s state unit. I appeal to all Karyakartas and my supporters to understand that power and position itself are not the ultimate objectives in politics,” Vijayendra said in his appeal on social media.
He added, “I would like to convey to all my well-wishers that any unnecessary comments on social media and elsewhere will not only damage the reputation of our party but also hurt the sentiments of Yeddyurappa Ji and myself. Our party has and will never let down those who have the potential to contribute to the party.”
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