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Yeddy back with ‘mistake’ on lips

Bangalore, Jan. 9: B.S. Yeddyurappa formally returned to the BJP today and declared it was “a big mistake” to have quit and floated his own Karnataka outfit over a year ago.

“It was a big mistake and unknowingly we allowed an undeserving Congress to come to power in the state,” an emotional Yeddyurappa said, expressing regret over leaving the BJP after having spent over four decades.

The former Karnataka chief minister, credited with helping the BJP form its first government in the south in 2008, then outlined his new mission.

“Let’s forget what happened in the past and move on by erasing mutual suspicion (between him and BJP leaders) to strengthen the party and help it come to power at the Centre,” he said after signing membership forms and formally merging his Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) with the BJP.

A staunch supporter of Narendra Modi, the Lingayat leader said he would start touring the state soon to unify the party and prepare it bag as many Lok Sabha seats as possible. He said the “time was up” up for the Congress. “The nation will surely elect the BJP to power and Modi will be our next Prime Minister.”

Yeddyurappa, who had to quit as chief minister over corruption charges related to illegal mining, was today welcomed by a slew of party leaders. They included former chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, state BJP chief Prahlad Joshi and national general secretary Ananth Kumar.

Until recently considered the biggest hurdle to Yeddyurappa’s return, Kumar today pledged total unity. “We will never separate as we have understood the value of unity as we paid a heavy price in the Assembly elections (of May 2013 when BJP votes got divided and benefited the Congress),” Kumar said.

State party president Joshi echoed the view. “We have no more differences and have united to stay together with the purpose of winning a majority of the Lok Sabha seats.” The state has 28 seats.

The KJP won only six Assembly seats but had eaten into traditional BJP votes as the Lingayats largely stood by Yeddyurappa. This enabled the Congress to romp home with a clear majority in the 224-member Assembly. The BJP was left tied with the Janata Dal (Secular) with 40 apiece, but pushed to the third position owing to the better vote percentage of the Dal (Secular).

The process of bringing back Yeddyurappa began in late 2013 when he sought to be a partner of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. This subsequently led to a full-scale merger by dissolving the KJP.

However, two of the six KJP MLAs are yet to join the BJP and likely to continue as unattached members for now.