SHIVAMOGGA: Signalling the end of his electoral politics, Karnataka BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa on Friday said he will be vacating his Shikaripura Assembly seat and that his son and the party's state Vice-President B Y Vijayendra will be contesting the 2023 polls from there.
Vijayendra, Yediyurappa's younger son, is largely seen as the former Chief Minister's political heir apparent.
His elder son B Y Raghavendra is the Member of Parliament from Shivamogga.
This announcement is largely seen as the veteran leader ending his innings in electoral politics.
"I'm not contesting, Vijayendra will be contesting from Shikaripura. I pray to the people of Shikaripura with folded hands to make him victorious with a margin bigger than mine," Yediyurappa said.
To a question on the demand from followers for Vijayendra to contest from old Mysuru region, he said, "there is lot of pressure on him to contest from there, but as I'm vacating the seat and will not be contesting, Vijayendra will be contesting from Shikaripura."
The 79-year old leader, who began his electoral politics as 'Purasabha' president in Shikaripura, was first elected to the Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times from there.
Earlier in the day addressing an event in the Assembly segment, he asked the people to continue the cooperation they gave to Vijayendra too.
"I pray to you with folded hands to acknowledge our service by making him (Vijayendra) win with a margin of over one lakh votes. I will visit the constituency in the coming days and Vijayendra will come here once a week. I will go to all the 'hoblies' to introduce him and to strengthen the party," he said.
According to sources close to Yediyurappa, the Lingayat strongman will not contest any polls from here on and had made a decision in this regard, when he stepped down as the Chief Minister.
Yediyurappa had resigned as CM on July 26, 2021.
Age was seen as a primary factor for his exit from the top job, with an unwritten rule in the BJP of keeping out those above 75 years from elected offices; also the high command wanted to make way for fresh leadership ahead of the Assembly polls.
Vijayendra said he will abide by the guidance of his father and the directions of the party.
Noting that his primary responsibility as the Vice President is to organise and strengthen the party across the state and that he will continue to do so, he said, a month ago party leaders from Shikaripura had met Yediyurappa in Bengaluru and put pressure on him, following which today's announcement has been made; however the party has to decide on it, and that he will act accordingly.
Asserting that there is no word called retirement in Yediyurappa's 'dictionary', Vijayendra further said he (Yediyurappa) has built the BJP in the state and even when he stepped down as CM, he made a commitment to bring the party back to power and will continue to strive to fulfill that by travelling across Karnataka.
Earlier, there were reports that Vijayendra might be fielded to contest the Assembly polls from one of the seats in the old Mysuru (south Karnataka) region, where the party is considered to be weak.
He too had recently stated that he is interested in working in the region, if the party decides.
A section of partymen feel that Yediyurappa announcing his son as successor to his seat, may be an attempt to secure the political future of Vijayendra, before it is too late, and after the recent 'setback' in this regard.
Ignoring the recommendation of the state unit to field Vijayendra for the June 3 biennial elections to seven seats of Karnataka Legislative Council, the party central leadership denied him the ticket.
The move was seen in some political quarters as a setback to Yediyurappa, as the senior leader wanted to see to it that Vijayendra becomes MLC and subsequently is inducted into Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led cabinet.
Vijayendra was appointed as the party Vice President in July, 2020.
Before that he was appointed as BJP youth wing general secretary, soon after he was denied a party ticket to contest from Varuna constituency in Mysuru, ahead of the May 2018 Assembly polls.
His stakes increased in the party as he was credited by many to have played a key role in BJP's first ever victory in K R Pet and Sira Assembly segments during the by-polls held in 2019 and 2020 respectively.