‘Winnability is everything’

Print edition : May 25, 2018
Interview with B.S. Yeddyurappa, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate.

THE image of B.S. Yeddyurappa, 75, bowing to and seeking the blessings of Narendra Modi, 67, says it all. The Karnataka Lingayat strongman almost single-handedly built the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka, even led the saffron outfit’s first government in the State, and is the party’s chief ministerial candidate. But today it is all too evident that he has become a side player, with the BJP’s narrative being driven by and restricted to Prime Minister Modi and to a lesser extent the party’s national president Amit Shah. Though he did have his say in the selection of a number of candidates, his son B.Y. Vijayendra’s nomination from the Varuna constituency was scuttled at the last moment, allegedly by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and certain party men. Nominations for his close confidante Shobha Karandlaje for the Yeshwantpur seat was also refused. In many public meetings, Yeddyurappa seems distant and tired. Frontline met him at a road show in Bengaluru. Excerpts from the interview:

The Congress has said that the BJP has entered into a secret pact with the JD(S).

Siddaramaiah and the Congress have lost confidence, that is why they are talking like that. Siddaramaiah is afraid he is going to lose his Chamundeshwari seat. Even in Badami we have put up a formidable candidate.

Pre-election surveys have indicated a hung Assembly.

The BJP will win an absolute majority. On May 17 or 18, I will take the oath as the Chief Minister.

What are the BJP’s main planks?

The achievements of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the performance of the BJP government in Karnataka led by me [2008-13] and the failures of the Siddaramaiah government.

The decision to accommodate seven candidates with close ties with the Bellary Reddy mining lobby smacks of sheer disregard morality in public life.

You must understand the way politics and electoral politics work. Winnability is the most important criterion. And they [the Reddy brothers] are the most important people in that region. The view was that their presence would help the party. This view was accepted by the party leadership. And anyway the BJP has not nominated Janardhana Reddy.

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