BJP gambles on Yeddyurappa for 2014 polls

    By V.S. Karnic, IANS,

    Bangalore : The BJP may be hearing on a Modi wave across the country but, at the same time, it is realistic that the wind supposedly blowing in its favour will not bring in votes during the 2014 general elections without the help of local strongmen. Hence it seems ready to take back its former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa though he is yet to be cleared of corruption charges.

    The state Bharatiya Janata Party is confident that the party’s central leadership will now seriously start the process of bringing back Yeddyurappa as assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are done with. (Assembly polls were also held in Mizoram but their results will not have a bearing on the national scene in 2014.)

    State BJP chief Prahlad Joshi and most of the party’s senior leaders are expecting the central leaders to call Yeddyurappa to Delhi in the next few days to finalise the merger of his Karnataka Janata Party with the party.

    Yeddyurappa, who became chief minister in May 2008, was forced to quit in July 2011 over bribery charges in mining contracts. After waiting for over a year for the party to make him the state unit chief, he quit the BJP in November 2012 to head the KJP.

    The KJP contested most of the 224 seats in the 225-member assembly (one member is nominated) in the May 2013 elections but won only six seats. However, the KJP garnered 10 percent of the votes, which the BJP acknowledged resulted in the party losing power to the Congress after only one term.

    Though Yeddyurappa has been saying that he is ready only for an alliance or seat sharing with the BJP and not the merger of his party, he knows that this will not be acceptable to his former party. He also knows his outfit has little hope of making an impact in the Lok Sabha polls by going alone.

    He has pledged support to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The former chief minister was disappointed that he was not invited to the first rally Modi addressed in Bangalore last month after his BJP named him as its prime ministerial candidate.

    State BJP leaders such as former party president K. S. Eshwarapppa and former chief minister D. V. Sadananada Gowda have been seeking Yeddyurappa’s return as they believe only that will brighten the party’s prospects in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

    In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls the BJP won 19 of the 28 seats from the state, its best showing yet.

    However, its confidence has been shattered after the dismal performance in the May assembly elections. The BJP could not become even the main opposition party as the Janata Dal-Secular also won 40 seats but had polled more votes.

    While results of the Lok Sabha will show whether the BJP benefited from Yeddyurappa’s return, the party will gain immediately after he merges the KJP with it.

    The BJP will then become the main opposition party with more than 40 members. Though the KJP has six members, there is a doubt whether all of them will go along with Yeddyurappa.

    (V.S. Karnic can be contacted at [email protected])