Yediyurappa to tour Karnataka tour after Ganesha festival

The unstated purpose is to assert himself and promote his son, say BJP insiders

The former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, back from a family vacation in Maldives and currently in his home turf Shivamogga, on Friday announced that he would start a Statewide tour “to strengthen the party” after Ganesha festival.

This comes ahead of the zilla and taluk panchayat polls expected to be held in the State by the year-end or early next year. However, Mr. Yediyurappa said the tour was aimed at bringing the party back to power in the State in the 2023 Assembly polls. “The party should return to power by winning at least 135-140 seats. I will visit districts along with other leaders and then concentrate on constituencies where we do not have our MLAs,” he said.

Double edged

However, Mr. Yediyurappa’s proposed tour — for which he has acquired a luxury car worth over ₹1 crore — appears to have more than one aim. Through this, he plans on reasserting his leadership over the party in the State irrespective of whether he holds a post or not and subtly promoting his son B.Y. Vijayendra, who is expected to tag along with him through the tour.

This has reportedly made many leaders, especially those in the faction that actively lobbied for his replacement, uncomfortable, sources said. This faction sees leadership change as a first step towards bringing the party out of his shadows in the State. “Mr. Yediyurappa is a mass leader and his tour will definitely help the party in the upcoming panchayat polls. But by his persona he tends to dominate the stage. The party needs to fight against it. Otherwise the entire leadership change exercise will go meaningless,” said a senior party functionary, who has identified himself with the other faction.

However, Mr. Yediyurappa, who also turned down a gubernatorial post, has claimed an active political role for himself from the day of his resignation, which was acknowledged by tweets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, then. Mr. Yediyurappa’s active political role, along with promotion of his son, has emerged as the new bone of contention between the two factions. “This essentially means even leadership change hasn’t put an end to factionalism within the State unit,” a senior party leader lamented.

Multiple sources in the party said there had been a push back against the former Chief Minister’s proposed tour. “No one is in a position to forbid him from touring the State. After consultations with Arun Singh, in charge of party affairs in the State, Mr. Yediyurappa has now been instructed by the high command to take along other party leaders on the tour and ensure it is not a father-son affair,” a senior party leader said.

Rousing welcome

Meanwhile, Mr. Yediyurappa received a rousing welcome in Shivamogga when he reached the town Friday evening, first time since he resigned as Chief Minister.

He will be in Shivamogga district for four days and will reach his constituency, Shikaripur, on Sunday. The former Chief Minister said that his doors would always be open to people. “Whether I am in power or not, I am there to respond to all your problems. You can come and meet any time,” he said. Mr. Yediyurappa said during his tenure as Chief Minister, he had given approvals for many development works in the district and also provided funds for them.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, also in charge of the district, met Mr. Yediyurappa on Saturday.

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