Union Home Minister Amit Shah on a visit to poll-bound Karnataka surprised state BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa and many in the party by choosing to accept a flower bouquet from his son B Y Vijayendra first over him, as he arrived for a breakfast meeting at the former Chief Minister’s residence.
The gesture assumes significance as it’s seen by some in the party that Yediyurappa’s political heir apparent, who is the party’s State vice-President, may be heading for a bigger role as the party prepares for the Assembly elections, due by May. As Shah alighted from his car, Yediyurappa stepped forward to offer the bouquet but the Home Minister told him to give it to his younger son, and chose to accept it from him. A beaming Shah and Vijayendra, who also got a pat on the back from the former BJP President, then posed for photographers. Thereafter Shah accepted a bouquet from Yediyurappa.
Photographs also later showed Vijayendra personally serving breakfast to Shah.
The breakfast meeting comes weeks before the Assembly elections in Karnataka and in the midst of the party in the process of finalising its candidates..
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The octogenarian Yediyurappa, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Board, the party’s top decision-making body, had been touring across the state as part of the ‘Vijaya Sankalpa Yatre’ in recent weeks.
”Amit Shah spoke to me with a lot of affection, it has given me the strength of an elephant. It has given me more strength to work,” Vijayendra told reporters after the meeting, in response to a question, whether Shah has sent a political message by insisting on taking a flower bouquet from him.
In response to a question, he noted that he has been working and touring in Shikaripura constituency in Shivamogga district, based on the advice of the party workers and leaders there. On whether he will be contesting against senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah in Mysuru’s Varuna segment (if he enters fray from there), he said, it is for the party’s central leadership to decide.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel, party’s General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, Ministers Govind M Karjol and B Sriramulu were also present at the breakfast meeting. There were reports earlier that Yediyurappa was upset as Vijayendra was not given any prominent position in the party and was not inducted into the cabinet by making him an MLC, after he stepping down as Chief Minister in 2021.
While announcing that he will not contest Assembly polls, Yediyurappa in the same breath had said that he will be vacating his Shikaripura Assembly seat, from where Vijayendra will be contesting, if the high command agrees.
However, earlier there were reports that Vijayendra might be fielded to contest the Assembly polls from one of the seats in the old Mysuru (south Karnataka) region, where the party is considered to be weak. He too had expressed his interest in working in the region, if the party decides.
Vijayendra was denied a party ticket to contest from Varuna constituency in Mysuru, at the last moment, during the 2018 Assembly polls.
His stakes increased in the party, and in the Old Mysuru region, as he was credited by many to have played a key role for BJP’s first ever victory in K R Pet (where Minister Naryana Gowda was the candidate) and Sira Assembly segments, during the by-polls held in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Vijayendra’s elder brother B Y Raghavendra is BJP MP from Shivamogga.
The BJP seems to be falling back on its seasoned oarsman Yediyurappa making him a key poll mascot, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as it shores up campaign in poll-bound Karnataka.
The reasons are not far to seek as to why Yediyurappa has been pushed to the top of the campaign plank: the four-time Chief Minister, who built the party from grassroots level, has a mass appeal and connect — particularly with the political influential Lingayat community — that no other party leader in the State commands. Stating that Shah visited their house on the invitation of Yediyurappa, Vijayendra said, naturally as the elections are round the corner the leaders have held detailed discussions on the political situation in the state.
”The discussions took place regarding not allowing a hung assembly-like situation in the state for any reason, and that the BJP has to come to power with a clear majority by taking the central and state government’s programmes to every house,” he said.
Responding to a question, Vijayendra said, after his father’s resignation as the Chief Minister, naturally there were discussions about him being sidelined in the party, but Yediyurappa had clearly stated the situation and the reasons for his resignation.
”Talks that Yediyurappa has been sidelined in the party are far from the truth. After resigning as CM, my father has been working with enthusiasm to bring BJP back to power and will continue to do so,” he said.