NEW DELHI: After “yielding” to Karnataka party chief B S Yediyurappa’s chief ministerial bid, the BJP is seemingly in a spot on its much talked about 75-year age ceiling for holding offices and contesting elections. BJP working president J P Nadda, apparently struggling for justification in his maiden presser, explained that Yediyurappa staking claim to form government was part of a continuous process since he has been leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly.
Though the BJP’s constitution doesn’t mention age ceiling for party leaders to hold position in government and for contesting elections, the unwritten rules has been enforced under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah in past couple of years. Yeddyurappa, 76, is the only exception within the BJP who has become the chief minister of Karnataka despite the age bar.
To a pointed question, if the BJP has become flexible on the age issue, Nadda said: “Yediyurappa has been leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly. It’s a continuous process that he has staked claims to form the government. It’s not about being flexible.”
The BJP top brass gave go-ahead to Yediyurappa to stake claims on Friday morning after becoming well aware that the party didn’t have enough space to manoeuvre the leadership issue on the back of rebellious past of the Karnataka party MLAs.
The age bar within the party, however, had brought political careers of a host of BJP leaders to an end, which included veterans like L K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Sumitra Mahajan, Karia Munda, Shanta Kumar, B C Khanduri, B C Koshiari and Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav, who couldn’t contest the Lok Sabha polls.
The likes of Najma Heptullah and Kalraj Mishra had to leave the Union Cabinet after they crossed 75. Former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, too, had to pass on the baton to Vijay Rupani on same ground.
The age ceiling applicable was extended to electoral politics as per a decision in a BJP Parliamentary Board meeting in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, sources said.
BJP unit in Karnataka has shown autonomy
B S Yediyurappa is perhaps the only exception to BJP’s resolve to groom young leaders, with party leaders concurring that its Karnataka unit has demonstrated relative autonomy. Nadda said the BJP would give a clean and stable government in Karnataka. The BJP working president added that the
Congress-JD (S) government in the state fell under the weight of its inner contradictions.