In what probably is his “farewell speech” in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly of which he was a member for decades, state BJP strongman and former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday (February 22) said, till the last breath of his life he will honestly strive towards building the party and bring it to power.
The 79-year-old veteran leader, who has already announced his retirement from electoral politics, said there is no question of him sitting at home, and after the Assembly session he will tour the state and campaign for the party and its candidates.
Intervening during the discussion on state budget, the four times CM repeatedly urged the ruling party legislators to go before the people with confidence and seek votes and said it is certain that the BJP will come back to power with a clear majority.
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Bringing back BJP to power
“If god gives me strength in the next election too, which is five years after this election, I will make all efforts for the BJP to come to power. As you are already aware I have said that I will not be contesting polls, but the respect shown to me and positions given to me by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party cannot be forgotten during my lifetime,” he said.
“Till the last breath of my life I will honestly strive for building BJP and to bring it to power, let there be no doubts about it….I want to tell all our (BJP) MLAs on this side (treasury benches) to work with confidence and prepare for election, many from that side (opposition) are ready to come with us, if you are confident, we can take them along and bring back BJP to power with a clear majority, ” he said.
Noting that he was speaking for the last time in the Assembly, with the session set to conclude on Friday, Yediyurappa said, “this in a way is my farewell, as I cannot come to the Assembly and speak after this.”
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Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy however intervened and said, Yediyurappa will be making his last address in the House on Friday.
Not contesting 2023 Assembly polls
Yediyurappa in July last year announced that he will not be contesting the Assembly polls, and will be vacating his Shikaripura Assembly seat, from where his younger son and the partys state Vice-President B Y Vijayendra will be contesting, if the high command agrees.
The veteran leader, who began his electoral politics as Purasabha president in Shikaripura in Shivamogga district, was first elected to the Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times from there.
“I have heard certain speeches criticising the BJP for doing injustice to Yediyurappa and neglecting me. The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have never neglected me, and considering the position and respect that they gave me, I’m indebted to Modi, and I can never forget the opportunities and positions given to me.”
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He said, as the party gave him the opportunity, he was able to become Chief Minister four times. “the opportunities that I have got, no one else has got ever.”
“If someone is under the illusion that they can make Yediyurappa sit quietly, by saying certain things, there is no question of Yediyurappa sitting quietly. I want to tell the legislators on the ruling side that BJP coming to power once again with a clear majority is as much certain that there are sun and moon, and they (Congress) sitting on that side (opposition) is also certain, let there be no doubt about it, don’t think that I’m making a prophecy,” he added.
Yediyurappa further said he will visit all the Assembly constituencies after this assembly session, and in the next two months everyone will see how there will be change in Karnataka and the wind will blow in favour of BJP.
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“… only thing that you (ruling party MLAs) have to do is go back to your constituencies after the session, earn the trust of the people, and inform them about the programmes and schemes announced in the budget for their benefit,” he added.
Yediyurappa resigned as CM on July 26, 2021. Age was seen as a primary factor for his exit from the top job, with an unwritten rule in the BJP of keeping out those above 75 years from elected offices; also the high command wanted to make way for fresh leadership ahead of the Assembly polls.
Targeting Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah, Yediyurappa sought to know what he meant by stating that he will not contest from the Badami seat, where he had won in the last election.
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“Does it mean you (Siddaramaiah) have not done development work in the constituency, or are you lacking confidence about winning from there again? When you are lacking courage to contest from the constituency, despite having worked there for the last five years, how will people from the other constituency trust you and will give you an opportunity?” he asked.
“I’m not saying this for the sake of criticism. My advice to Siddaramaiah even now is, if you want to give back to the constituency from where you had won and became the Leader of Opposition, you have to contest and win from there once again, only then it will have a meaning. If you contest from any other constituency, people there will feel that you had fled from the earlier segment and will not trust you,” he said, urging Siddaramaiah to rethink about it.
Siddaramaiah, a former CM, who currently represents Badami segment in Bagalkote district, has said that he will contest from Kolar in the upcoming polls, if the Congress leadership agrees.
Siddaramaiah was not in the House when Yediyurappa spoke.
Intervening, Deputy Leader of Opposition UT Khader said the Congress Legislature Party leader enjoys the public trust and popularity and he can contest and win from any of the 224 Assembly segments.
Yediyurappa, during his speech, also advised Chief Minister Bommai to implement the seventh pay commission for the state government employees.