New Delhi, Oct. 9: B.S. Yeddyurappa’s return to the BJP is a “formality” and could come before Narendra Modi’s rally in Bangalore on November 16, party sources have said.
Modi’s consent is awaited but the decision to bring the former Karnataka chief minister back was for all intents and purposes clinched at a meeting yesterday between BJP president Rajnath Singh and leaders of the Karnataka unit’s core committee.
However, Rajnath made it clear Yeddyurappa’s homecoming would have to be “unconditional”. The word from the breakaway leader’s camp earlier had been that he would return only if he was made the chief of the BJP’s Karnataka unit or the state legislature party and given a “free hand” in distributing tickets for next year’s general elections.
The central leadership agreed that while Yeddyurappa could revitalise the Karnataka BJP after its rout in the state polls this summer, the party should not cave in to his demands and negotiate from a “position of helplessness”.
A source close to Yeddyurappa said he would not set conditions but work like a “loyal soldier”.
Yeddyurappa quit the BJP in 2011, following his resignation as chief minister after being accused in a dodgy land-deal, and floated his own party.
While it did not pick up many seats in this year’s Assembly elections, it damaged the BJP by taking away the votes of the Lingayats, Yeddyurappa’s politically dominant caste.
An important consideration for the BJP in planning to take him back is an assessment that the Lingayats are gradually drifting towards the ruling Congress. “We have to contain the movement and bringing back Yeddyurappa is the only way to do it,” a Karnataka BJP source said.
In yesterday’s meeting — held in Mumbai to review poll preparations in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa — the Bangalore leaders pitched for Yeddyurappa's comeback. They included former chief ministers D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettigar, and Bangalore South MP Ananth Kumar-
Karnataka BJP sources said they asked Kumar — who had been opposed to Yeddyurappa — to “take the lead” and give a sense to Rajnath that the state unit was “united in its purpose”. Kumar agreed to go by “majority opinion”, sources said.
Before the party’s central parliamentary board signs and seals the decision, Karnataka RSS leader M.C. Jayadev is expected to speak to Yeddyurappa. Rajnath, Modi and the others will come into the frame after that and take the process forward.