Karnataka elections: The curious case of BSY’s son and Varuna seat

In 2018, Yediyurappa wanted his son to contest from Varuna but the BJP central leadership did not support it. This time, the party wants Vijayendra to contest from Varuna, but BSY doesn’t want it

BSY, Karnataka, 2023 Karnataka elections
BSY wants his son to contest from his home turf Shikaripura this time

The wheel has come a full circle as far as former BJP chief minister BS Yediyurappa (BSY) and his son BY Vijayendra are concerned.

In 2018, Yediyurappa wanted his son to contest from Varuna but the BJP central leadership did not support it. This time, central BJP Delhi leaders want Vijayendra to contest from Varuna, but BSY doesn’t want it. In 2018, BJP’s central leaders made BSY announce that his son is not going to contest from Varuna. In 2023, BSY announced on his own that there is no question of his son contesting from Varuna, though the central leadership desires so.

BSY’s hints

BSY has been giving broad hints that he wants his son be given a ticket from his home turf Shikaripura. He doesn’t want his son to become a ‘scapegoat’ in the fight against a strong Congress candidate like Siddaramaiah. This has put BJP in a quandary, according to party sources. The party wants Yediyurappa’s guidance and leadership during the elections, but his son’s ticket has become a bone of contention.  According to these sources, BJP central leadership’s decision on Varuna will spring a surprise.

Also read: Karnataka polls: Will Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra take on Siddaramaiah in Varuna?

According to a highly placed source, a powerful Lingayat seer called BSY and Vijayendra to Mysuru on March 31 and asked them against contesting from Varuna in the interest of both Vijayendra and Siddaramaiah.

Siddaramaiah, the target

After former CM Siddaramaiah chose Varuna as his constituency, the BJP central leadership wanted to put a strong candidate against him. The BJP wants Siddaramaiah defeated as it will weaken Congress and its leadership in Karnataka. To this end, Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently rushed to BSY’s home and met both father and son. It is said that he wanted Vijayendra to contest from Varuna to defeat the former CM.

Siddaramaiah had earlier shown the inclination to contest from Kolar and in anticipation the BJP and JD(S) had camped there to prepare grounds for his defeat. Siddaramaiah’s once close aide and now a BJP leader Varthuru Prakash, also a Kuruba leader, was considered to be a good candidate. But with the Congress’ internal report raising the possibility of Siddaramaiah’s defeat from Kolar, the Congress leader chose Varuna. Interestingly, BSY had earlier once said that Siddaramaiah was playing a game and that he will contest from Varuna; and, it became a reality.

For Vijayendra’s future

BSY, a member of the parliamentary board of BJP, wants his son to be his successor in politics and wants a safe constituency for him. On his part, Vijayendra has proved his mettle whenever he was given a chance to lead the party’s campaign in byelections by ensuring BJP candidates’ victory.

A few months ago, BSY publicly stated that his son would contest from Shikaripura. The very next day, however, he took a U-turn, saying all decisions will be taken by the party high command. BSY is known for his shrewdness and seldom makes off-the-cuff political statements; this was his way of sending a message to the BJP’s central leadership.

A senior BJP leader, who doesn’t want to be named, said that BSY knows the reasons behind his exit from the CM post. “But why should he always listen to the party’s high command and sacrifice the future of his son?” he questioned, pointing out that in 2018 BSY wanted his son to contest from Varuna but was not given the party ticket.

This time the party wants Vijayendra to contest against Siddaramaiah but BSY doesn’t want his son to become a ‘scapegoat,’ he said. “BSY’s constituency Shikaripura in Shivamogga district is a safe place for his successor Vijayendra and BSY wants to retain that constituency with his family,” he said. “His first son BY Raghavendra is a sitting MP of Shivamogga and now he wants (to ensure) his second son’s political future,” the leader added.

Why no to Varuna?

To understand why BSY does not want his son to contest from Varuna, a look into the past is needed.

In 2008, Siddaramaiah won from Varuna by 18,848 votes against his nearest rival Revannasiddaiah. In 2013, the margin was even higher — almost 30,000 — and he became the chief minister. This may be the reason for him to decide to contest from Varuna again in 2023.

Also read: Karnataka elections: Cong eyes Vokkaliga MLAs to bolster its Old Mysuru tally

In 2018, Vijayendra was a strong contender as BJP candidate from Varuna constituency while chief minister Siddaramaiah wanted his son, Dr Yathindra, to contest from there. In the last minute, Vijayendra was denied a ticket from Varuna.

A former MP told The Federal, “2013 election was not in favour of BSY and Siddaramaiah gained 12 to 30 per cent Lingayat votes because of his connections with a powerful Lingayat seer of that region. SC, ST, Muslims and OBCs also favoured Siddaramaiah. In 2018, when Siddaramaiah’s son contested from there (Varuna), he won against the BJP candidate with more margin of votes but Siddaramaiah was defeated from Chamudeshwari constituency. Now, in 2023 elections, Siddaramaiah is contesting from Varuna again and the caste calculations are favouring him. If Vijayendra contests from there, he can mobilise Lingayat votes but it will be a do-or-die situation for him. Considering these factors, BSY decided to ask his party high command and his son not to contest from the Varuna constituency.”