Bengaluru: It has been almost one-and-a-half months since BS Yediyurappa returned as the chief minister of Karnataka. After a 27-day-long “one-man show”, Yediyurappa formed a Cabinet with 17 ministers, keeping the remaining 16 berths vacant. And the vigilant party high command in New Delhi wasted no time in imposing three deputy chief ministers on the 76-year-old party veteran, complicating the already complex power structure in the state.
Even though Yediyurappa is the chief minister, unlike his previous terms, there is not much activity at his private house in Bengaluru. Only a few party leaders and MLAs are flocking to his house, indicating a subtle change in the balance of power in Karnataka BJP. His own close circles whisper that the chief minister’s hands are tied and he is not in a position to dole out big favours and ministerial berths to anyone.
Till the 2018 assembly elections, Yediyurappa was the undisputed leader of the BJP in Karnataka. To his credit, he was the first to bring the BJP to power in a southern state in 2008. His word was the law and he was almost independent till he was forced to quit in a mining scam in July 2011.
Under Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s highly centralised system, Yediyurappa seems to have lost most of his autonomy and powers. After the first round of Cabinet formation, his wings have been clipped and the RSS is exercising its authority, claim his close confidantes.
“He is 76. Despite his age, the high command has made an exemption for him. But they want to groom other leaders, putting an end to family rule. They are also worried about the image of the government. The high command does not want a repeat of 2008-13 episodes. If Yediyurappa understands this, he is safe. Otherwise, he may have to vacate for someone younger in the days to come,” said a senior BJP leader.
BL Santhosh, one of the main rivals of Yediyurappa, is now an all-powerful general secretary (organisation) of the BJP in New Delhi and it has further eroded the BJP stalwart’s clout within the party, admit some insiders.
A gritty Yediyurappa successfully toppled the JDS-Congress coalition government after half-a-dozen attempts, even though the methods adopted by him are questionable.