May 26: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader B S Yeddyurappa was today unanimously elected as leader of the BJP Legislature Party in Karnataka setting in motion the formation of the first BJP government in South.
The newly elected party legislators, numbering 110, met at the residence of Mr Yeddyurappa’s residence this afternoon and unanimously elected him as the leader of the Legislature party. Party observer for Karnataka and senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu were present. Born in Bookanakere in KR Pet Taluk of Mandya District, 66 year old Yeddyurappa started as a casual worker in the Public works department and had functioned as a volunteer of RSS in the city. He was elected President of the Shikaripura Taluk Jan Sangh in 1972 making his debut in public life. Jailed during emergency in Shimoga and Bellary he was the Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1977.
He exposed the food for work scam in 1980, struggled to unchain bonded labours and to uphold the rights of unauthorised cultivators Mr Yeddyurappa made his debut in the State Assembly in 1983 when he defeated the then Horticulture and Prisons Minister Yenkatappa of the Congress from Shikaripur. This election proved to be a turning point in his public life and shaped his political career.
He had won from the constituency subsequently in 1985 and 1989.
He took over the reigns of the State BJP as its President in 1988.
He functioned as Secretary, All India BJP during 1992 and was elected to the Assembly for a fourth term in 1994 and functioned as the Opposition leader in Karnataka legislative Assembly.
He became the President of the State unit for the second time in 1998. He lost in the Assembly elections in 1999 and was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Council in 2000 and remained as MLC till 2004 when he came back to the State assembly for a fifth term and became the Leader of the Opposition. He had successfully led the BJP to emerge as the single largest party with 79 seats in the 2005 elections. JD(S) with 58 seats chose to support the Congress which had won 65 seats to form a coalition Government.
Yeddyurappa became the Deputy Chief Minister in February 2006 after the JD(S) severed its ties with the Congress and formed a coalition with the BJP, with H D Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister, after pulling down the Congress led government. It was a contracted coalition with the two parties agreeing to swap the Chief ministership after 20 months. However, at the end of its term the BJP withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy government in October last year alleging that the JD(S) had failed to keep up its commitment to transfer power.
The State witnessed a high political drama and the Assembly was kept under suspended animation before the JD(S) legislators in individual letters submitted to the government agree to support the BJP led government, but on the crucial day when Mr Yeddyurappa was to prove his majority in the Assembly, it withdrew the support forcing Mr Yeddyurappa to resign paving way for dissolution of the house.
A born fighter Bookanakere Sidalingappa Yeddyurappa, struggled both within the party and outside to raise from the ranks of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak to lead the Bharatiya Janata Party closer to power in Karnataka.
His never-say-die attitude and the struggle for the welfare of farmer and relentless salvos as an opposition leader against the ruling parties in the State in the past had borne him fruit to lead the new government of BJP, the first for the party down the vindhyas.
His dream to become Chief Minister of Karnataka ended in a fiasco in November 2007 as he emerged a ‘Saath Din Ka Sultan’ following the Janata Dal(S) decision to pull the carpet from under his feet after assuring to support the government led by him. But now, instead of 20 months as contracted with the JD(S) to form the coalition government, Mr Yeddyurappa has a chance to lead the BJP government for a full five year term.
Entering the Assembly for a sixth term since 1983, Mr Yeddyurappa as Finance Minister during his Deputy Chief ministership he reduced the interest rates cooprative loans to farmers to seven per cent and subsequently to four per cent, for the first time in the country. He had also relentlessly fought for waiver of farm loans during his tenure as opposition leader to mitigate the hardship faced by the farming community, especially in the predominantly rain fed areas of the State.