BENGALURU: From losing out on being the probable candidate in the 2018 assembly elections to leading the BJP to a historic victory in Varuna constituency in the 2019 bypolls to now being appointed as the vice president of BJP Karnataka unit, BY Vijayendra, son of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, has come into his own. In an interview with The New Indian Express, Vijayendra outlines his plans and explains why his appointment as a vice-president of the state unit cannot be seen through the prism of dynasty politics.
Did you anticipate this new role?
No. But I am grateful to my party leaders for entrusting me with this responsibility. BJP doesn’t believe in dynasty politics but this is an exception because the party’s leadership has faith in me. It is a great opportunity for me.
What are your goals for yourself and the party as its vice president?
As far as the organisation is concerned, there are a lot of areas that we need to work on like in Old Mysuru and Hyderabad Karnataka regions. We were stuck at 104 seats in the last elections. Yediyurappa has a dream of winning 150 plus seats in the next assembly polls and we need to work in that direction. Since we are in power at the Centre as well as in the State, there are a lot of expectations among the people. It is a Herculean task because of the prevailing COVID-19 crisis and the financial situation. I have to tour the State and understand the problems of the people, especially the youth, who lost jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. We need to work in the direction of bringing more employment and investments into Karnataka.
You were set to make your electoral debut from Varuna in the 2018 polls. What changed?
Though I was not interested in electoral politics, our workers in Varuna decided that someone like me should fight from the constituency. It was on their insistence that I decided to contest. Varuna was then CM Siddaramaiah’s home turf and I wanted to take it up as a challenge. However, our leadership decided I should not contest and as a party worker I accepted their decision.
Is this one step closer to electoral politics for you?
I don’t think in those terms at all. I will go with the party’s directions. My goal is clear, I want to work in the organisation, travel across the State and meet our cadres.
BJP is a party that prides itself for standing against nepotism. But your father is the Chief Minister, your brother is an MP.
As far as B Y Raghavendra is concerned, if you go back to 2009, when he was made to contest, the party chose him. Yediyurappa did not request a seat for him or lobby. The party needed a candidate who could defeat a former CM like S Bangarappa. It wasn’t an easy task and the party felt Raghavendra was its best bet. As for me, our Central or State leadership do not look at me as just my father’s son. They have probably recognised the good work I had done during the KR Pete byelection and the Lok Sabha election and have given me this opportunity.
You were entrusted with ensuring a victory in KR Pete. What was your takeaway from it?
What I learnt from it was that people think beyond caste equations. Caste is a concept only in the minds of leaders whereas people are for development. Fortunately, the development works initiated in KR Pete when Yediyurappa was CM in 2009 helped. People felt reassured as Yediyurappa was the Chief Minister again. Despite not having a strong party base or cadre, our hard work as a team, our candidate Narayanagowda and Yediyurappa hailing from Mandya helped us in the victory.
How do you respond to allegations of your interference in Yediyurappa’s administration?
It is easy for people to make such allegations against me or any member of the CM’s family. I am only a bridge between the Chief Minister and party cadres. I have never interfered in official work nor have our MPs or ministers made such allegations. These are just rumours in the media and I do not give them much importance.
As Yediyurappa completes one year in office, there seems to be unrest in the party and government.
There may be some concerns. We have been in the opposition for the last six-seven years. MLAs are eager to ensure developmental activities in their constituencies. In the last few years, their constituencies did not receive funds or assistance from the earlier governments. Given the prevailing situation, the government has its limitations. As finance minister too, the Chief Minister has to maintain financial discipline. Having said that, there is no ‘unrest’. Concerns are being addressed. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the CM met MLAs region-wise to understand their concerns and definitely things are improving.