Former Karnataka chief minister and BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa announced Monday that his son B Y Vijayendra will not contest the Karnataka assembly elections from Varuna constituency in Mysuru, where Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son Yatindra is a candidate.
Yeddyurappa made the announcement at a party meeting at Nanjanagudu, near Mysuru, which immediately triggered protests by his supporters who flung chairs and furniture and were finally dispersed by police. The protests had the BJP rushing party general secretary in charge of Karnataka P Muralidhar Rao and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar to Mysuru.
“There has been a lot of news in the media recently that my son Vijayendra will be contesting from the Varuna seat. After a great deal of analysis I have taken a decision myself against fielding Vijayendra in the election,” Yeddyurappa said in an official statement Monday evening.
“Though there is a lot of pressure from supporters to field Vijayendra it has been decided that he will only help in the campaign this time.”
Vijayendra, who was widely tipped to be the BJP candidate from Varuna, did not figure in a list of seven candidates released by the BJP Monday. The BJP has not named a candidate yet for Varuna and three other seats, including Badami — Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s second constituency.
Also missing in Monday’s list is Shobha Karandlaje, a Member of Parliament and a close aide of Yeddyurappa. The BJP instead named film star Jaggesh from the Yeshwanthapura constituency in Bengaluru, where Karandlaje hoped to contest.
The denial of a ticket to Karandlaje was expected as the BJP leadership had indicated that it did not want to face too many by-elections in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 particularly after losses suffered in bypolls in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Apart from Karandlaje, sources said, Yeddyurappa had pushed kick-start Vijayendra’s political career in the state polls. His older son Raghavendra is already active in politics and is the sitting MLA from the Shikharipura seat, which Yeddyurappa vacated when he was elected to parliament in 2014.
Sources in Vijayendra’s camp expressed confidence that the decision not to field him would be reversed Tuesday — the last date for filing of nominations. “As many as nine local BJP leaders including candidates from a few neighbouring constituencies have decided to quit if Vijayendra is not given the ticket to contest the Varuna seat. Senior BJP leaders are rushing to Mysuru tonight to resolve the issue. We are expecting Vijayendra to file his nomination tomorrow,” they said.
The Varuna constituency which has a sizeable Lingayat population — the community to which Yeddyurappa belongs — was considered the ideal ground to initiate Vijayendra into politics. Yeddyurappa had fielded his close aide Siddalinga Swamy from the seat on a ticket of the breakaway KJP party that he floated in 2013.
Sources said that Yeddyurappa was so confident that his son Vijayendra would be given the green signal to contest the Varuna seat after several weeks of campaigning that he had issued the B-Form, required to file the nomination, to Vijayendra.
Incidentally, the BJP has given tickets to a couple of father-son duos already despite criticising the Congress for practicing dynastic politics. Senior BJP leaders Govind Karjol and V Somanna have been granted tickets with their sons. The party has also given tickets to two of the controversial Reddy brothers from Bellary.
Yeddyurappa, who has had a big say in the choice of candidates until now, was camped in Mysuru in anticipation of his son filing his nomination. Despite the protests by BJP workers in Mysuru over denying Vijayendra a ticket, P Muralidhar Rao said Yeddyurappa himself had asked his son to withdraw to enable a party worker to contest the seat.
“Siddaramaiah is contesting from two seats in these polls and has given a safe seat to his son. But Yeddyurappa instead of giving his son the ticket has decided to give an ordinary party worker an opportunity,’’ Muralidhar Rao said on social media.
While there is speculation that the BJP may field former police officer L Revannasiddaiah from Varuna if Vijayendra is not given the ticket, Yeddyurappa indicated that he is willing to contest against Siddaramaiah in the Badami seat if the party high command directed him to do so.