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A day after the Karnataka Congress inducted two allegedly corruption-tainted leaders into the state Cabinet, the opposition BJP sealed a deal to bring back former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, who quit the party under a graft cloud in 2012, Thursday.
The move was expected since September when Narendra Modi became the party prime ministerial candidate and, like the Congress Cabinet inductions, is aimed at gaining electoral dividends since Yeddyurappa is considered a leader of the dominant Lingayat community in north Karnataka that has been a strong supporter of the BJP.
The return of Yeddyurappa after exactly a year in exile was sealed by a delegation of senior-most BJP leaders, who called on the former chief minister at a private hotel following a party core committee meeting.
The Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) Yeddyurappa created will now merge with the BJP. The addition of six KJP MLAs will give the BJP more numbers than the JD(S) in the Karnataka Assembly and make it the principal opposition party.
The BJP had suffered a humiliating loss in the May 2013 Assembly polls in Karnataka, held after Yeddyurappa parted ways with the party. The KJP grabbed 10 per cent of the vote share in the state splitting the BJP support base among Lingayats and reducing the then ruling party to 40 seats after a high of 110 seats in 2008.
With the return of Yeddyurappa, the BJP is hoping to replicate its 2009 Parliament poll performance when it had won 19 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka under the leadership of the Lingayat strongman.
Yeddyurappa has through the last five months of efforts to reconcile with the BJP stated that he is returning to make Modi, with whom he enjoys a good rapport, the prime minister.