The BJP’s newly-appointed Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) general secretary BY Vijayendra, son of former chief minister and BJP face BS Yeddyurappa, does not seem miffed with the high command decision to not allow his candidature from Varuna for the Karnataka polls.
But speculation is rife that the decision was a result of opposition to his father's style of functioning by a few senior state leaders. Speaking to Firstpost, Vijayendra ruled out any such notion, and insisted the BJP’s decision had nothing to do with concerns of nepotism, dynastic politics or his father’s image.
It was all set to be a high-stakes battle between yourself and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son Dr Yathindra in Varuna constituency until the BJP suddenly sprang a surprise. What prompted such a decision by leadership?
Vijayendra: I do not have time to sit and probe the reason behind the decision. Ultimately, it was the high command’s decision and as a humble party worker I have to abide by it. Moreover, the party has given me more opportunities. It appointed me state general secretary for the youth wing (BJYM) and allowed me to tour the state. This has definitely proved to be a good opportunity for me.
You'd been campaigning in Varuna for weeks. Do you think the party leadership’s attempts to distance itself from nepotism might have influenced its decision?
Vijayendra: I don’t think it is about nepotism. Varuna is a constituency which is not really BJP turf. It is actually the constituency of the chief minister. Hence, I do not see anything to do with nepotism here. If I really wanted to contest, I could have chosen a safe seat. This is not a BJP stronghold and I do not think this (nepotism) is the reason.
Varuna is a Congress stronghold. What do you think would have been your chances of winning from there?
Vijayendra: It is not about me. It is Siddaramaiah’s constituency. A couple of issues have troubled voters in the constituency in the past five years. Voters are upset with the chief minister. Firstly, Varuna was hit by consecutive droughts in the past three years and farmers are upset with Siddaramaiah. Water was diverted to Tamil Nadu and farmers have suffered. Secondly, people expected that as their MLA became chief minister, industries would come up in Varuna but that did not happen. As far as development is concerned, Varuna has over 90 villages: If one village has its roads repaired then three villages are left without roads. When it comes to development in Varuna, it is totally based on caste. So, it’s not about Vijayendra, any BJP candidate would give a tough fight in Varuna.
Given that the BJP has fielded party media coordinator Thothadappa Basavaraj, do you feel the party still has a chance of winning?
Vijayendra: Definitely. The BJP can win in Varuna. Since voters are looking for a change, they want BJP to return to power and see BS Yeddyurappa as the chief minister. BJP has a fair chance of winning irrespective of who they field.
What might have prompted the party leadership to shift you to the Old Mysore region for campaigning? What is the strategy being applied? What issues are being addressed?
Vijayendra: Since they made me the Yuva Morcha secretary, they wanted me to concentrate on Mysore and Chamrajanagar districts. The issue being addressed in this region is development. People want the BJP to return to power. That’s the main agenda. The Narendra Modi government is already there. Now, people want a BJP government in the state as well. Modi at the Centre and Yeddyurappa at the state is what our workers are chanting.
A day after protest by the state’s party workers over ticket being denied to you, the BJP's central leadership appointed you as the general secretary for the youth wing. What has been your contribution as an individual to the party that led your new portfolio?
Vijayendra: I have been working in Varuna for the past 20 to 25 years. There are others working with me for the past year who expected me fight from Varuna. But since BJP has taken a call, all party workers will work for the party and there is no issue (within the party) at all. It will take some time for party workers to settle down, but ultimately they will all work in the party’s interest.
Most opinion polls predict a hung Assembly. In such a scenario, to form the government, who do you think the BJP will extend coalition support to?
Vijayendra: There is no scope for a hung Assembly in Karnataka; people have already had a bad experience in 2005-2006. We still have two more weeks. Voters are intelligent. I am sure the BJP has an edge and we will come back with an absolute majority. The question of a hung Assembly does not arise at all.
Do you think the recent remarks by BJP leaders on religious minorities can reduce the party’s support base?
Vijayendra: The BJP does not believe in religion or caste-based politics. Even Yeddyurappa is known to be above all this. He works for all, including Dalits and poorer sections of society. I do not think some statements here and there by a couple of leaders will upset the results. People are already in favour of the BJP and the party is certainly in favour of all sections of society.
Both the JD(S) and Congress have fared well in the Old Mysore region in the past. How different do you think this election results would be?
Vijayendra: The Old Mysore region where I am now travelling and even in Chamarajanagar district, where I was yesterday, I am hopeful the BJP will perform better than Congress and the JD(S). Both in Chamarajangar and Mysore districts, the BJP has a fair chance winning.
Do you think the past allegations against your father have impacted the beginning of your political career?
Vijayendra: No! This is not the reason at all. Firstly, I never expected I will even get to contest the Assembly elections. It is all a coincidence. The party cadres demanded I contest and hence I tried. That is why I travelled through Varuna in the last couple of days and campaigned there. Frankly speaking, I was never interested in electoral politics. It was the situation that demanded I contest and gave me the opportunity. It has nothing to do with anything else.
Doesn’t the decision to withdraw your ticket prove to be a shot in the arm for the Congress?
Vijayendra: It is not about two individuals: Yathindra or Basavaraj. The contest is between the Congress and the BJP. There is a lot of dissent against Siddaramaiah regarding development and other issues. People are thus hoping for a change. Basavaraj has a strong chance of winning and the trend is in favour of the BJP. Given that the candidature of Basavaraj was decided at the last minute, it will take time for things to settle down. But the trend is still in favour of the BJP.
There is speculation the decision to withdraw your candidature was done at the behest of RSS. What's the truth?
Vijayendra: There are two issues here as far as RSS is concerned. Firstly, the RSS is not involved in any electoral decisions. I do not think that the RSS has anything to do with this. Secondly, this has nothing to do with dynastic politics. If it was about dynastic politics, I would have chosen a safe seat from another part of the state. I would choose any constituency where the BJP has won earlier. Varuna is a constituency where the BJP has never won and hence my withdrawal from Varuna cannot be linked to dynastic politics.
Are you happy with your new position and what do you envision to do as the head of Yuva Morcha?
Vijayendra: I am very happy with what the party has given me. Earlier, I was restricted to the Varuna constituency, but now the party has given me a new opportunity and there is good scope for me to travel through Mysore, Chamrajangar and other districts to spread the party’s agenda. I am yet to make post-election plans, but I will definitely work towards strengthening the party.
The author is a member of The NewsCart, a Bengaluru-based media startup.
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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 18:29:35 IST