BS Yediyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka and first BJP leader to head a state in south India, submitted his resignation from the post on Monday, exactly two years after he took charge in 2019. Hemmed in by dissidence, resentment over his son’s alleged interference in administrative matters and the unwritten party rule that those over 75 years of age must retire, the Lingayat leader had hinted at his exit after meeting top leaders in Delhi earlier this month.

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“It has been an honour to have served the state for the past two years. I have decided to resign as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. I am humbled and sincerely thank the people of the state for giving me the opportunity to serve them,” BS Yediyurappa said as he announced his decision in the Assembly earlier today in a choked voice as he turned emotional, reports PTI.

He later submitted his resignation to Governor Thawarchand Gehlot and said that he was not pressured to quit. “Nobody pressurised me to resign. I did it on my own so that someone else can take over as CM after completion of two years of govt,” the outgoing CM said.

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The 78-year-old leader’s exit ends months of speculation over his political future. But before making an exit, BS Yediyurappa, the BJP’s face in Karnataka,  did flex his politicale muscle. The Lingayat community, the BJP’s strong votebank that comprises about 16% of the population, stood behind him issuing statements that he should not be  touched. Many Lingayat seers expressed solidarity with Yediyurappa, who represents the Shikaripura constituency, warning the BJP of against any such move. The seers even met him at his official residence, which many interpreted as a show of strength.

The seers reminded the BJP about the plight of the Congress party after Veerendra Patil (another Lingayat chief minister) was removed from the post. The Lingayat community had then shifted its loyalty to the BJP.  Even Opposition Congress’ Lingayat leaders M B Patil and Shamanur Shivashankarappa came out in his support.

What went against Yediyurappa?

For Yediyurappa, who started his politial career with the RSS, the past two years since he took over as CM have been a roller-coaster.  The fact that he had to accommodate as ministers all the 16 MLAs who had deserted the JD (S)- Congress coalition government to support the BJP government, led to dissidence in the party.

This dissent is something he could not effectively quell. While the party kept on denying any rebellion, leader after leader spoke against him and his style of functioning. Some ministers even came to Delhi to meet the central leadership and convey their dissatisfaction with the CM. Coupled with this was his son’s alleged interference with administratice matters.

The son factor

One of the points of friction and dissidence was the allegation that B Y Vijayendra, Yediyurappa’s son and BJP state vice-president, interfered in the administration. Vijayendra even rushed to Delhi just a few days back reportedly to placate the central leaders after the seer’s meeting with Yediyurappa was interpreted as a show of strength by the CM.

It was reported that Yediyurappa agreed to step down, after meeting top leaders in Delhi, only after an asusrance was given that his son will not be touched. Yediyurappa had sought that his son be made state BJP vice president or be given a role in the government. Added to this was the unwritten rule in the BJP that those over 75 years of age must retire.

Tumultuous tenures

For Yediyurappa, political uncertainty is nothing new. All his stints as Chief Minister have been tumultuous. He has had a 2-day, 7-day and also a 2-year tenure. On November 12, 2007, Yediyurappa was sworn in as the 25th CM of Karnataka on. Soon there were differences between the BJP and its coalition partner JD(S) over sharing of ministries, which resulted in his resignation on November 19, 2007.

His three-day stint was in 2018. Heading the single largest party after Assembly polls, Yediyurappa was asked to form government and prove majority in 15 days. He was sworn-in on May 17. The SC intervened and asked for a floor test in 24 hours. The trust vote was to be held on May 19. Before the trust vote was to begin, Yediyurappa after an emotional speech, resigned saying that he will be unable to prove majority. He became oneo of the shortest-serving chief minister in India with just two-and-a half days in office.