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With eye on LS polls, BJP picks BSY's son Vijayendra as Karnataka chief

Bengaluru: In a big move that has 2024 Lok Sabha election written all over it, the BJP on Friday appointed first-time MLA Vijayendra Yediyurappa, party veteran B S Yediyurappa’s son, as its Karnataka president.

BJP national president J P Nadda signed off on Vijayendra’s appointment, which comes six months after the party’s humbling defeat in the Assembly election. Vijayendra replaces Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, who was on an extension.

Known for his gung-ho approach, Vijayendra is the MLA of Shikaripura, a constituency his father represented eight times since 1983.

“Our goal is clearly the upcoming Lok Sabha election,” Vijayendra said. “The Lok Sabha election is a big challenge. At a time when the world is looking at the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka must contribute by winning maximum seats,” he said.

Vijayendra’s appointment is a calculated move aimed at undoing the damage caused to the BJP from the apparent neglect of Yediyurappa, the Lingayat strongman who stepped down as chief minister in July 2021. This was seen as a blunder that helped the Congress make inroads into the Lingayat community, the BJP’s traditional vote base.

By elevating Vijayendra, the BJP hopes to counter the narrative that Lingayat leaders, including Yediyurappa, were sidelined in the party.

Evidently, the BJP is mindful of Yediyurappa’s importance. With his son at the helm, the BJP will count on Yediyurappa to ensure the party does well in the Lok Sabha polls.

In 2018, Vijayendra was denied the ticket to contest from Varuna against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son Dr Yathindra. Since then, Vijayendra carved a niche for himself by engineering BJP’s victories in constituencies that were believed to be impossible, notably KR Pet in 2019.

Vijayendra, 47, is also seen as the face of the BJP’s second-line leadership that the top brass wants to groom in Karnataka, the only southern state where the saffron party has a formidable presence.

Vijayendra’s organisational capabilities coupled with resourcefulness may give the BJP a fighting chance against Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, the Karnataka Congress president.

With the BJP having allied with the H D Deve Gowda-led JD(S), Vijayendra’s role as the saffron party’s president will make it a Lingayat-Vokkaliga combination to fight a resurgent Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.

By appointing Vijayendra, the BJP has disregarded its stand against ‘parivarvaad’ (dynasty politics), a clear sign that it prioritises winning over moral exhortation.

(Published 10 November 2023, 13:08 IST)

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