HUBBALLI: “I will go to the people. I will tour the state and ensure that BJP wins maximum seats in the Lok Sabha polls,” BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa had pledged on the floor of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on May 19.
Three months later, the 75- year-old BJP state president is doing exactly that. Travelling for hours at a stretch on the muddy, pothole-filled roads further ravaged by continuous rains has become a routine for Yeddyurappa over the last one week. This even as rivals, Congress and JD(S) have barely begun any work for the Lok Sabha or ULB polls. While the coalition partners are heavily dependent on district units to take up the onus, Yeddyurappa has assumed the position of the driving force for the cadres, even for the Urban Local Body polls.
On Tuesday, The New Indian Express was on the former chief minister’s trail as he hopped between districts of Hubli-Dharwad and Uttara Kannada, addressing party workers ahead of the Urban Local Body polls. His message to the cadres is clear, “aim to win at least 60 per cent of all 105 Urban Local Bodies that are going to polls”.
“Workers will show initiative only when leaders work with them. They will move forward if I go to them,” B S Yeddyurappa told this reporter on why he took up this statewide tour barely months after the assembly elections.
His first stop was Eshwari Vishwavidhyanilaya in Yellapur — to address leaders of ‘Shakti Kendras’ and district unit office bearers. For workers who are still recovering from the strain of Assembly elections, his visits are acting like a shot in the arm. “Although they are disappointed that we could not form the government, they haven’t lost heart. They are keen on fighting back in the ULB polls as well as Lok Sabha elections,” Yeddyurappa told this reporter while travelling on a slushy road in Yellapur.
When he kickstarted his statewide tour to boost grassroots level workers, his car’s distance meter read 47,210 kms. “We have travelled about 2,000 kms in the last six days and all of it via road,” party leader Shobha Karandlaje told the TNIE.
The leaders have so far toured Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Ballari, Koppal, Huballi, Gadag, Haveri and Uttar Kannada as on Tuesday.
In a single day, Yeddyurappa addressed at least 600 local leaders of the party in Yellapur and Dharwad put together with one pitstop at a party worker’s house in Yellapur for lunch. The long car drives tire out the former chief minister but he enthuses the cadres with every address. While he acknowledges that the JD(S)-Congress coalition would affect vote share in a few districts, Yeddyurappa isn’t greatly worried about it. His targets are charted out.
For Yeddyurappa ensuring a landslide for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls has become a personal battle. So much so that he is almost fighting a lonely battle.
While his current tour is to campaign from the ULB polls, agenda in every meeting is bringing Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power at the Centre, indirectly making this all about the Lok Sabha polls.
“He is fighting for Lok Sabha but how many MPs are campaigning with him? He is still the single most or rather the only leader of the BJP who works for the party and not for himself,” said a senior functionary in Yeddyurappa’s office.