By Ismail M Kutty
Shivamogga: BS Yediyurappa has become the Chief Minister of Karnataka and he has scripted history by becoming the CM for the fourth time, just like former Chief Minister S Nijalingappa. As he is all set to take over the reins of the state, one must look into the life and times of the leader, who has reached where he is, treading a very difficult path.
Born on February 27, 1943 in a village called Bookanakere in Mandya district to Puttathayamma and Siddalingappa couple, his full name is Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa. It is said that he was named after the presiding deity of a Shaiva temple at Yediyur built by saint Siddalingeshwara in Tumkur district.
Yediyurappa earned his BA degree from a Mandya college and went on to work as a clerk in the Karnataka government’s Department of Social Welfare in 1965. But, he did not like the job. He quit and shifted to Shikaripura (his constituency). Here he worked in a rice mill named Shankar rice mill as a clerk. The mill was owned by Veerbhadra Shastri, whose daughter Maithra Devi and BSY fell in love and he later married her. Together Yediyurappa and Maithra Devi have 5 children- two sons Raghavendra and Vijayendra and three daughters Arunadevi, Padmavati and Umadevi. Though he had ventured into hardware business after marrying Maithra Devi, he was unhappy on the professional front and wanted to explore an all-new arena.
He realised that there was a calling and he re-joined Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, an organisation he had joined when he was 15. This time, there were opportunities as well as challenges that BSY came across and all of these catapulted him to higher ranks. He soon became the Shivamogga district unit chief of the RSS.
The turning point in his life came in the 70s. His first brush with popularity and fame happened in 1973, when he was elected as the member of the Shikaripura Municipal Council. Subsequently, in 1975 the country went into Emergency and BSY was jailed for fighting for rights of people. He was re-elected as a councillor in 1977.
In the 70s, farmers, landless families, farm labourers and land issues were the burning issues in the state and BSY became the crusader fighting the cause of the landless agriculture workers and bonded labourers in Shivamogga district. The protests and struggles that he took up for the cause of the working hands soon made him a hero. This also opened up bigger avenues of opportunity for him.
From Shivamogga to Bengaluru
A member of Jana Sangha since 1970, in 1980, the BJP was formed and BSY became a part of the new face of Jana Sangha. In 1983, he contested the assembly polls from Shikaripura and entered the state Assembly. He went on to win from the same seat for five terms. However, sitting in the opposition, BSY made his presence felt like a strong leader, who never missed an opportunity to hold a mirror at the faulty policies of the government. His contemporaries say that as an opposition leader he created a sense of fear amongst the ruling party members.
His long political journey, mainly working as an opposition leader, made BSY the face of BJP in Karnataka and also the whole of south India. In turn of events, though BSY had a chance to form a government in Karnataka in 2004, when the BJP emerged as the single largest party, his dreams were shattered as the Congress and the JD(S) joined hands and formed a government with Dharam Singh as the Chief Minister. In 2006, BSY joined hands with Kumawarswamy of JDS and brought down the Dharam Singh government after the latter was indicted by Lokayukta in an alleged mining scam. The BJP and the JDS decided on a power-sharing agreement of 20 months, but the ‘friendship’ collapsed when JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy refused to hand over the power to BSY after completing 20 months. In the 2008 elections, BSY, the Lingayat strongman walked the party to a massive victory in the state, thus forming first BJP government in entire south India. The glory was not long-lived as controversies around him abusing power started making rounds.
The indictment by Lokayukta in an illegal mining scam forced him to resign on July 31, 2011. On October 15 that year, he surrendered before the Lokayukta court, after it issued a warrant against him in connection with alleged land scams, and was in jail for a week. Soon after the ugly episode of week-long imprisonment, rumours of him nurturing differences with the BJP made to the headlines and in a rather surprising move, the BJP’s face of southern India decided to part ways. He formed Karnataka Janata Party to show BJP its place, but he turned out to be the sole soldier on a failing mission. With a massive political debacle, and with uncertainty looming large, BSY turned to his mother party, BJP, which too was looking for formidable shoulders. |In 2014, BSY merged the KJP with the BJP and started knitting strategies for the next Lok Sabha polls. The BJP won 19 out of 28 seats.
Today, he stands tall as a leader who had many feathers on his hat. The only leaders of Karnataka to have become CM four times and one of the very few privileged leaders of the BJP for whom the disciplined party has mended its stern 75-year retirement policy, BSY is looking stronger than ever.