Bangalore: Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa resigned from the primary membership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the legislative assembly on Friday, marking the end of a four-decade association with the party.
Yeddyurappa said he had submitted his resignation to assembly speaker K.G. Bopaiah on Friday and also faxed his resignation from the primary membership of the BJP to party president Nitin Gadkari. Soon after, he enrolled as a primary member of the newly launched Karnataka Janata Party.
In the short term, Yeddyurappa assured that he would like to see the BJP government complete its full term, and asked his supporters to stay in the party. “I request the MLAs (members of the legislative assembly) and ministers not to resign from the government. All my supporters will join me at the appropriate time,” he said.
Yeddyurappa said he was forced to leave the party after being victimized and pushed to a “situation of no return”. “My ambition was to make a model development state out of Karnataka,” he said.
The former chief minister also expressed sadness and grief, coming to tears at times, as he announced his resignation. “I fought for the uplift of BJP and strived hard to bring the party to power in Karnataka and south India for the first time,” he said.
Yeddyurappa entered the state assembly in 1983 and, over the years, has assumed the roles of opposition leader, deputy chief minister, and finally chief minister in 2008. However, his tenure was marked by a series of rebellions, and a series of corruption cases. Yeddyurappa was forced to step down in July 2011 after an anti-corruption ombudsman(Lokayukta) report on illegal mining implicated Yeddyurappa and his family.
On the future of his newly launched party, the Lingayat community strongman said he was confident of receiving the support of minorities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other backward communities. He announced his new party would contest all 224 constituencies in the assembly elections in 2013. “I have full confidence we will get an absolute majority”, he said.
Corruption scandals and infighting within the party has resulted in three chief ministers in the last four years, seriously affecting the party’s chances in the state election.
Before the 2013 assembly elections, the BJP faces a crisis as Yeddyurappa has been the party’s main campaigner, said Sandeep Shastri, a political analyst and pro-vice chancellor of Jain University in Bangalore. “The party knows they are losing out on a mascot,” he said.
Mumbai-based political analyst Jai Mrug said: “There were two poles in the party. One was Yeddyurappa and the other were the Reddy brothers. Now, with their ousting from the party and with the dismal performance of the state government, BJP is headed for a rout in Karnataka. And it makes them internally vulnerable to similar adventure from likes of former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje,” he said.
The victory of BJP in the 2008 assembly elections was seen as a way for the party to grow despite its decline in northern states such as Uttar Pradesh. “If Karnataka is lost, the party faces prospect of the pre-Babri demolition when party strength in Parliament was below 100. So it is important for the BJP to keep its flock together. If the same continues, BJP will not be able to take advantage of present political situation in general elections and the benefits would go to regional parties like YSR Congress headed by Jagan Mohan Reddy,” said Mrug.
However, Yeddyurappa may not find the going easy. In the past, a third force has never been successful in Karnataka, according to Shastri.
Chief ministers like Devraj Urs in the 1970s and S. Bangarappa in the 1990s were unsuccessful in their attempts to launch a new party. “At best, Yeddyurappa will hurt the chances of the BJP candidate in various constituencies and may emerge as a kingmaker who cannot be ignored by either the Congress or the BJP if they want to come to power,” said Shastri.
A senior BJP leader from New Delhi, requesting anonymity, said whenever a leader like Yeddyurappa quits, the party loses in terms of voters and activists. “This is crucial as it has come at a time when party is preparing for general and state assembly elections. But we are hopeful that we will able to recoup from the same”, he said.