Karnataka: The Karnataka government has reiterated its intention to name the soon-to-be-inaugurated Shivamogga airport after former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks to placate the Lingayat strongman ahead of this year’s state elections.
The move hints at an attempt to assuage Yediyurappa before the elections as the BJP is struggling to gain traction under Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in the only southern state which is under its control.
“The State Cabinet has decided to name the Shivamogga Airport as B.S.Yediyurappa Airport and a proposal to this effect will be sent to the Government of India,” Bommai said in a statement on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the airport on February 27, which will be his fifth visit to Karnataka since the second week of January.
In April last year, Bommai mooted to name Shivamogga Airport after Yediyurappa but the former chief minister formally requested the decision be dropped as it would not be ‘appropriate’.
Ahead of the polls, Yediyurappa’s younger son B.Y. Vijayendra, the BJP state vice-president, was given additional responsibilities as he was named as the committee head who will oversee the organising conventions across all 224 assembly constituencies. Vijayendra is likely to replace his father as the party candidate from Shikaripura in Shivamogga.
The developments to placate the father-son duo is likely to be part of the strategy not to further offend its senior most leader who was forced to step down as chief minister in July 2021.
Last year, the BJP decided against nominating Vijayendra for the MLC elections in May and elevated Yediyurappa to the party’s parliamentary board in August. There were reports that the BJP brass decided not to field Vijayendra in the MLC election as it planned to field him in the Karnataka elections and to give him a greater role as a placatory move.
Though the BJP has formed the government twice in 2008 and 2019 in Karnataka, it has never secured a majority on its own. In such a situation, Yediyurappa is a very important element for the BJP as his full involvement can bring in support from the Lingayats, who have threatened to move away from the party after Bommai failed on his promises to resolve the reservation-related demands.
(Edited by Tony Rai)