From A Rice Mill Clerk To South’s 1st BJP CM, Yeddyurappa’s Political Journey

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Bengaluru: From serving as secretary to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to becoming the first BJP chief minister in the south and later getting tainted with allegations of corruption, it has been a rollercoaster ride for B S Yeddyurappa, the CM choice of the saffron party for the Assembly elections.

Born in a village called Bookanakere in KR Pet taluk of Mandya district in 1943, Yeddyurappa was named after the presiding deity of a Shaivite temple built by saint Siddalingeshwara at Yediyur in Tumkuru district. After completing his graduation, he first worked as a clerk in a rice mill before joining the Sangh and later getting appointed as the President of the Taluk unit of the Jana Sangh in 1972.

In 1975, he was jailed for 45 days at Shimoga and Bellary during the 1975 Emergency period.

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It was in 1983 that he was first elected to the lower house of the Karnataka Legislature; he represented Shikaripura constituency six times. In 1988, he was appointed as the president of the state BJP. Following the 1994 state assembly elections, he became the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. While he lost the elections in 1999, he was nominated by the BJP to become a member of the legislative council of Karnataka. He was re-elected in 2004 and became the Leader of Opposition in Assembly during the chief ministership of Dharam Singh.

In an attempt to bring down Dharam Singh’s government, the BJP signed an agreement with Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy, stating that Kumaraswamy would be the CM for the first 20 months after which Yeddyurappa would take over. However, after completing his term, Kumaraswamy refused to relinquish his post, forcing Yeddyurappa to resign and withdrawing BJP’s support to the government.

Later, the two parties decided to bury their differences, paving the way for Yeddyurappa to take over as CM in 2007. However, he tendered his resignation in 2011 after JD(S) refused to support his government over a disagreement on sharing of ministries.

In 2008 Assembly elections, the BJP leader contested from Shikaripura against former CM S. Bangarappa of Samajwadi Party. Despite getting the support from Congress and JD(S), Bangarappa lost to Yeddyurappa by a margin of 45,000 votes. Yeddyurappa ushered in a bumper harvest for the BJP and Karnataka became the gateway for the party in south India.

Yeddyurappa’s downfall began after he was indicted for bribery, by Lokayukta N Santosh Hedge, in a massive illegal iron ore mining scam. From being the tallest BJP leader in Karnataka, he gradually began to be known as the first former CM of the state to be imprisoned for corruption. He spent over 20 days in Bangalore’s central prison in this regard. His two sons, BY Raghavendra, a BJP Lok Sabha member from Shimoga, and BY Vijayendra and son-in-law RN Sohan Kumar are also accused in the case.

He resigned from his position as MLA and primary membership of BJP in 2012, and formally launched the Karnataka Janata Paksha. However, in November 2013, it was announced that he was considering an unconditional return to the BJP. In 2014, he announced a merger with BJP ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Yeddyurappa has three daughters, Arunadevi, Padmavati and Umadevi. His wife Mytradevi died under mysterious circumstances in 2004. Her body was found in a well near their house in Shimoga.