‘Underdog’ BSY plays for higher stakes

For most part of his four decades in politics, B S Yeddyurappa has worn the tag of the underdog. During the brief periods he was in power as the first BJP chief minister in southern India — for seven days in October 2007 and for 25 months between 2008-10 — the crown rested uneasy on his head. When the former Karnataka chief minister launches his own Karnataka Janata Party on December 9, after his recent separation from the ruling BJP, he will once again return to being an underdog — with the task of heavy-duty, grassroot work to become an actual power in the next six months.

Yeddyurappa's exit from the BJP, nearly 25 months after corruption charges forced his exit as CM, is for all practical purposes an effort by the grassroots leader to keep himself politically relevant in the aftermath of his misadventures in power.

The launching of the KJP is pure survival politics despite aspersions in some quarters of it being an exercise in the short term to break the BJP vote base to smooth out the Congress's path to power in 2013. It is also being seen as a short-term insurance policy — at least till the next parliament polls.

With Yeddyurappa aiming for higher stakes, the immediate and obvious strategy would be to play his favourite emotional card — as a saviour of the masses who was felled by the machinations of people within the BJP. The impression that Yeddyurappa is the wronged one already has currency within his own Lingayat community, the single largest caste block in Karnataka at 17 per cent.

At the same time, the doors are not closed on the BJP yet. Though he attacks individual leaders during public conversations, he is still soft on the party. His son and supporters remain in the party and the BJP has imposed restraining orders on Yeddyurappa baiting.

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