Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, often referred to BSY, knows the value of hype, and plans all his moves to make sure he makes the most of either the crisis or the coronation.
Yediyurappa, 78, the BJP's first and the only chief minister in the south, in July 2019, hours before taking oath as Karnataka Chief Minister, changed his name on Twitter to numerologically correct 'BS Yediyurappa' from BS Yeddyurappa, walked into the state assembly at the auspicious time, not a minute over.
And today, amid big buzz around his exit after completing two years as in charge since he took over from the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition, the BJP leader's every move seems like a plan - his trip to Delhi or his meeting with a group of Lingayat seers earlier this week.
In a show of strength, nearly 30 seers of the Lingayat community, which comprises 16% of Karnataka’s population and is known to have hold on about 100 of the state's 224 assembly seats, had expressed support for Yediyurappa’s continuation.
Yediyurappa was born on February 27, 1943, to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma in Mandya's Bookanakere. An Arts graduate, he worked as a clerk in the social welfare department before taking up another clerical job at a rice mill in Shikaripura. He also ran a hardware shop in Shivamogga.
BS Yediyurappa, a Swayamsevak
At the age of 15, BSY joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Having learnt his lessons in organisation and resource management, the young leader took up the cause of the farmers and gained clout in the community. As part of the expected evolution, Yeddyurappa became Jana Sangh's Shikaripura taluk chief in the early 1970s.
The Karnataka strongman was first elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district in 1983 and went on to win five more times. It began at the taluk level of the Jansangh and he assiduously worked his way up, even being jailed during Emergency.
Sharp political acumen
In 2004, Yediyurappa made headlines as the face of the BJP when the party with no clout in the South emerged as the single largest party. But to his disappointment, the Congress and JD(S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda cobbled together an alliance, and a government was formed under Dharam Singh. BSY didn't lose hope and began planning his next move.
Known for his political acumen, Yediyurappa formed an uneasy alliance with H D Kumaraswamy, Deve Gowda's son, in 2006 and brought down the Dharam Singh government after Singh was indicted by Lokayukta in an alleged mining scam.
Under the arrangement of the rotational chief ministership, HD Kumaraswamy became the chief minister and Yeddyurappa his deputy. The coalition, as expected, collapsed after 20 months over a power-sharing deal. Next, the elections, as planned by BSY.
The Lingayat heavyweight led the party to victory in 2008 polls and headed the BJP's first government in the south.
Controversies and BSY
Soon after taking over as the chief minister, controversies swirled around Yediyurappa over alleged abuse of office to favour his family in land allotments in the state capital Bengaluru. In 2011, he was indicted by Lokayukta in an illegal mining scam, and he was forced to resign on July 31, 2011.
On October 15 that year, he surrendered before the Lokayukta court, after it issued a warrant against him in connection with the case and was in jail for a week. The BJP, his party for decades, had let him down by not backing him and forcing him to quit. Sulking BSY formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha in 2012, only to merge it with the BJP in 2014. BSY did dent the BJP's vote-bank but couldn't get a big share in 2013 polls, when Congress stormed back to power with 122 seats.
Yediyurappa, facing an uncertain future and the BJP looking for a leader with formidable clout to hold its bases in the south ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two decided to patch up. On January 9, 2014, Yeddyurappa merged his party with the BJP.
As promised, BS Yediyurappa delivered. In the Lok Sabha elections that followed, the BJP won 19 of the state's 28 seats, a remarkable shift for the party which had secured just 19.9% votes in the assembly elections in 2013.
The Lingayat leader, notwithstanding the taint of corruption, was back and with more hold in the party. In April 2016, he was appointed the state BJP chief for the fourth time.
To his benefit, a special CBI court acquitted him, and his family in a Rs 40 crore illegal mining case on October 26, 2016.He, however, continued to be dogged by controversies. The anti-corruption bureau launched proceedings against him in an alleged illegal land denotification case in 2017. He petitioned the high court, which stayed the ACB proceedings against him.
By now, at least in his party, BSY had risen over the frequent corruption allegations. The BJP declared him its chief ministerial candidate, even as the Congress mocked the "party with the difference".
In 2018, he repeated 2004. The BJP led by BSY became the single largest party but short of majority by nine seats in the 224-member assembly. The Congress-JD(S) seized on the opportunity and formed the coalition government with HD Kumaraswamy as chief minister. The Congress with 78 seats (it won two more later in bypolls) and JD(S) with 37 seats decided to form an alliance to keep the BJP out of power.
But in Karnataka, it's not over till it's over and just 15 months later the coalition collapsed. Yediyurappa, applying his poll math, seized the opportunity and formed the government again in 2019. Yediyurappa took over as the CM for the fourth time.