Bengaluru: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the reason for his growth to this high stature in public life, said Karnataka BJP strongman and former Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday, delivering his last speech in the Legislative Assembly, of which he was a member for decades.
The 79-year-old veteran leader, who has already announced his retirement from electoral politics, said till the last breath of his life he will honestly strive for building the party and to bring it to power.
Hailing former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, calling him a ”role model”, he also advocated for more women representation in the Assembly.
Friday was the last day of the 15th Assembly of Karnataka legislature, as the state is due to go for polls by May.
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”More women should get elected and come to this House. Male members should also cooperate and make space for more women members to get elected, this is my appeal,” Yediyurappa said in the Assembly.
Expressing gratitude to the people of his Shikaripura constituency in Shivamogga district for electing him repeatedly, he said working for the welfare of the people of the segment and enjoying their confidence was the duty of every legislator.
Yediyurappa, while participating in the debate on the Budget on February 22, had made a similar speech in the assembly, which he had called his ”farewell speech”.
In July last year, he had announced that he will not be contesting the assembly polls, and will be vacating his Shikaripura Assembly seat, from where his younger son and party’s state Vice-President B Y Vijayendra will be contesting, if the high command agrees. The veteran leader, who began his political career as ‘Purasabha’ (town municipal council) president in Shikaripura in Shivamogga district, was first elected to the Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times from there.
Noting that on February 27 he will turn 80, and on that special occasion Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Karnataka for the inauguration of the Shivamogga airport, Yediyurappa said, ”He (PM) saying that he will come on my birthday for inaugurating the airport has made me overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction.” ”In my life I got several good opportunities from being a normal ‘Purasabha’ member to becoming CM. In those days when roads were not good, but I had the good fortune of travelling the state and various districts with (former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
”I don’t know whether the members now will believe or not, after I begin a meeting, Atal ji, Murli Manohar Joshi and (L K) Advani used to come, by then I would have started addressing the next meeting, this is how we tried to build the party,” said Yediyurappa, a four-time Chief Minister.
Recalling that there was no one along with him, during the initial days of the party, the Lingayat strong man said, at one point we had only two MLAs in the Assembly, and after Vasantha Bangera quit, I was left alone.
”I never looked back, and sitting on that side (opposition), I have honestly fought for the cause of the people and issues concerning the state. What gave me the most satisfaction was my fight to get justice for the farmers who did unauthorised cultivation, both in the Assembly and in Shivamogga by staging dharnas, and finally responding to it, then CM S M Krishna solved the issue,” he said.
Yediyurappa resigned as CM on July 26, 2021. Age was seen as a primary factor for his exit from the top job, with an unwritten rule in the BJP of keeping out those above 75 years from elected offices; also the BJP central leadership wanted to make way for fresh leadership ahead of the Assembly polls.
He said, ”If I have grown to this high stature today, the reason for it is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the training I got there gave me the opportunities to hold various positions. I can never forget this in my life.” Calling JD(S) Supremo Deve Gowda a ”role model”, he said, ”it is not a small thing, even today at this age (89) he thinks about matters relating to the country and the state, and gives guidance. We need no role model other than this. I believe there are a lot of things to learn from Deve Gowda.”
Pausing for some time during the speech, probably filled with emotions, Yediyurappa said, ”I’m not able to understand what to speak and what not to, but I will be indebted to the people of my taluk who gave me an opportunity to work being part of this august house, and I will continue to serve them with honest till the last breath of my life.”
Observing that this was his last session in the Assembly, the former CM said, ”all of you should get elected and come back. I have decided that I will not contest the polls, and being outside (the assembly) I will work to build the party and its victory till the last breath of my life, there is no second thoughts on this.”
”I will tour the state in the coming days, and work to bring BJP back to power, that’s my goal. I will not spend even a day for myself…. No need for you (BJP MLAs) to be disturbed…” BJP’s victory in the coming assembly election is certain, he asserted.
Praising Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri for effectively running the House, Yediyurappa on the last day of the 15th assembly appealed to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to ensure that Kageri, in the next assembly sits on this ruling side and do good work as the Minister.
He also lauded the CM for his work towards the betterment of SC/ST communities and others. ”People of the state have appreciated it and in the coming days we will see its benefits.” Yediyurappa also praised Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah for fulfilling his duty with full commitment and with thorough study on various issues, concerning the state, and guiding the House.