Bengaluru: Karnataka BJP president B S Yediyurappa, was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of the state for the fourth time on Friday. Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the 76-year old Yediyurappa at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.
Yediyurappa insisted the governor that he be sworn-in exactly at 6 pm on Friday as it was the most "auspicious" time for him. His astrologers and numerologists had clearly told him, it is said, that his inauspicious time ended at 4 pm. The spelling of his name was also changed, from Yeddyurappa to Yediyurappa on the advice of his trusted numerologist.
Although he is 76 years old, Yediyurappa was not sidelined by the BJP. On the contrary, he was made the chief minister for the fourth time. Does that mean that Yediyurappa is more powerful than BJP veterans like LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi? BJP says that it would not give poll tickets to those who are over the age of 75 and hence LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi, as also former Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan were left out and not given party tickets in the April-May 2019 general elections.
It was believed that despite being stalwarts who led the party through its turbulent years, LK Advani and MM Joshi got a raw deal on account of their age and that the BJP was unyielding on the principle of age. The BJP, it appears, was forced to wink at this principle when it came to applying it to Yediyurappa.
Apparently, BJP president Amit Shah was making his moves cautiously in the light of BJP's bitter experience the previous time. An emotional Yediyurappa, however, called him at midnight and said it was his "last chance to be Karnataka CM" and hence, it is believed, Shah gave in and gave his nod.
But was the power really in the hands of the party high command?
Let's recall that when BS Yediyurappa was forced by the party to resign over the Rs. 1,000-crore illegal mining scam in 2008, the relationship with the party high command and Yediyurappa was very turbulent.
Now in the current assembly, Yediyurappa clearly has the support of over 60-70 MLAs with him. Also, it is known that Congress leader Siddaramaiah has differences with HD Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy.
This puts Yediyurappa in a position of advantage. He could well tell the BJP that if it has a problem with his age, others may not and he could still attain his dream of becoming the chief minister of Karnataka. Yediyarappa is a heavyweight in Karnataka politics and his caste equations in the state must also be borne in mind which makes him the face of the party.
Also given the party MLAs support he has, he could also ask the JD-S to form an alliance with him and in that case, could still end up as the chief minister.
Hence, it can be speculated that BS Yediyurappa does have the power to tweak rules and make the party high command listen to what he says.
Going back to the Karnataka polls of 2018, Karnataka ended up with a fractured mandate after Assembly elections in May 2018. The BJP was the largest party with 105 seats, but it was eight short of the majority mark of 113. The party still went ahead and staked claim, hoping to win MLAs from Janata Dal (Secular) over before a floor test, but we saw what happened. Yediyurappa took oath as chief minister, only to resign two days later before the trust vote could take place.
The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), which were able to cross the majority mark together, formed a post-poll alliance to form the government, with HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister. The ruling coalition had a difficult run for 14 months, steering through choppy waters frequently.
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