The BJP national leadership’s decision at the penultimate hour to not allow the party’s Karnataka state president and chief minister candidate B S Yeddyurappa to field his younger son as candidate from Varuna constituency was meant to send a message to the Lingayat strongman and others that they cannot take unilateral decisions, and that the high command is supreme, according to BJP insiders.
Although Yeddyurappa’s son B Y Vijayendra, 38, had campaigned in Varuna for nearly three weeks and Yeddyurappa designated him as the party candidate, sources said no formal consent to field him had come from BJP president Amit Shah.
“Yeddyurappa is known to operate in this manner, (and) others are forced to accept his decisions. But this time the party high command, which has accommodated much of his wishes, decided to show who is in control,’’ a source in the BJP said.
A senior party leader said, “Most people in the party were under the impression that Yeddyurappa had got the national leadership’s consent at some level to field his son. It turned out that he had not received a nod from leaders who matter.”
Another source said that since the party had accommodated “so many people with poor record, such as the Reddy brothers, it was assumed that there would be no hindrance to Yeddyurappa fielding his son”.
The BJP national leadership’s decision against letting Vijayendra contest from Varuna resulted in protests by his supporters in Mysuru area on Monday, a day before the last date for filing nominations. Yeddyurappa subsequently announced that he had decided not to field his son.
The Yeddyurappa camp is surprised that the national leadership and leaders in charge of the state polls did not know of the former chief minister’s decision to field his son — they said this was communicated at the local level and was in public domain for long.
Sources said the decision was announced at the penultimate hour to prevent the Yeddyurappa camp from causing any damage to the party before the nominations closed.
The decision to prevent Yeddyurappa from having his way in the Varuna seat is widely seen as a result of opposition to his style of functioning by a section of senior leaders in Karnataka BJP. Several senior BJP leaders in the state — former RSS functionary B L Santosh, now a general secretary, Union minister Ananth Kumar, and former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa, among others — have had long-standing feuds with Yeddyurappa and have frequently opposed his style of functioning.
The BJP government in Karnataka between 2008 and 2011, with Yeddyurappa as the chief minister, was marred by infighting between the Yeddyurappa faction and a group led by the Reddy brothers of Bellary, who were believed to have had tacit support of his rivals in the party’s state unit.
Indicating that phase, a state BJP leader said, “The party does not want a situation like in the past, when it (the party) was controlled by rival factions, leading to infighting. The party wants to control Yeddyurappa and others (from developing parallel leadership lines). The decision to stop Vijayendra from contesting was to send a message in this direction.”
Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers were accused of corruption and criminal conspiracy by the CBI for crimes that occurred between 2008 and 2012, under the previous BJP government. Yeddyurappa was the chief minister for just over three years since May 30, 2008. He was followed by D V Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar — for just over 300 days each — in the BJP government.
While Yeddyurappa has been acquitted on technical grounds, the CBI is yet to file appeals in his case. One of the Reddy brothers, Janardhan Reddy, is still under trial for alleged involvement in illegal mining and corruption.