A decade after his victory in Shikaripura allowed him to head the first BJP government in a southern state, B S Yeddyurappa, counting on his home turf to return him to power, wrapped up a scorching campaign Thursday with a roadshow and prayers at a temple.
Declared the chief ministerial candidate by his party, Yeddyurappa headed to Badami in the morning where BJP president Amit Shah led a final assault on one of the two constituencies chosen by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. By afternoon, he was in Shikaripura for the last lap of campaigning.
In Shimoga district, Shikaripura is dominated by the Lingayat community to which Yeddyurappa belongs. As they waited for him outside the Anjaneya temple, BJP workers and supporters cheered while auto-rickshaws with giant speakers blared campaign songs and recorded speeches, praising the achievements of their strongman.
Finally, around 3.30 pm, Yeddyurappa stepped out of a white SUV, in his trademark all-white attire complete with a white Nike cap, and headed straight to the temple where he prayed. He then boarded a modified pick-up to start the final roadshow. Indrajit Lankesh, filmmaker and brother of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, was by his side on the campaign vehicle.
The roadshow snaked through the narrow lanes of Shikaripura with party workers and supporters chanting ‘BSY, BSY’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. From rooftops, people showered flowers on Yeddyurappa who appeared exhausted at the end of a bitter, blistering campaign. With rain clouds gathering, Yeddyurappa urged supporters to move faster, aware that the roadshow had to end before campaigning officially ended.
As he watched the campaign pick-up go past, polio-stricken Sayyed Jaffer, on a three-wheel moped, said: “Yeddyurappa has been winning from here for years. He wins because he performs. That’s why I support the BJP.” But he had a complaint against the party: “I have a small travel business. That’s my only source of income. Following demonetisation, I was left in very bad shape. People just wouldn’t travel. How could I make ends meet? Things are better now, but what did it achieve?”.
Shikaripura’s sitting MLA is Yeddyurappa’s son, B Y Raghavendra, who won the seat in a bypoll after his father vacated it to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Shimoga. This time, BSY is up against local Congress leader G B Malatesh and JD(S) candidate H T Baligar. But he is confident Shikaripura will stay true to him.