Bengaluru: Taking charge of the BJP’s Karnataka unit as president on Thursday, the party’s national vice president and former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa vowed to return to power through the 2018 legislative assembly poll.
“My target is to get 150 seats in the 2018 state election to form a BJP government again, with absolute majority in the assembly,” Yeddyurappa said at a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mega rally in the Bangalore Palace grounds here.
In the 225-member assembly, that includes one nominated member, the opposition BJP has 47 lawmakers, the ruling Congress 123 and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 40, while there are nine independents and five others.
“My aim is to put our party back into power by getting rid of the Congress in the state to realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of freeing the country from it (Congress-mukt India),” he told hundreds of party cadres and workers at the rally under a scorching sun.
The rally was also held to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, and Yeddyurappa’s appointment as the party’s state unit president for the fourth time in his chequered political career.
Terming the Congress a sinking ship, the 73-year-old leader of the state’s second largest community Lingayats exhorted the party’s state leaders and cadres to work hard for winning the next assembly elections with a huge margin to form the government unlike in 2008 when it had to depend on independents and others.
He lamented that the party, which came to power first time and ruled the state for five years during 2008-2013, had no visible presence in nine districts, only one lawmaker in 13 districts and 21 lawmakers in Belagavi and Bengaluru districts.
“When we were together, we were strong with 110-120 members in the assembly and plunged to 40 plus in the present time due to differences and working against the party’s interests,” he recalled.
Ironically, Yeddyurappa who was forced to resign as the state’s first BJP chief minister on July 31, 2011 following corruption charges against him and his kin in the multi-crore-rupee mining scam and for freeing government-owned lands (de-notification), left the party in a huff and formed the regional Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), winning six seats in the May 2013 assembly election.
He, however, returned to the BJP in early 2014 after merging KJP with it and was elected to the Lok Sabha in the May 2014 general elections from his home parliamentary constituency of Shivamogga in the state’s Malnad region.
The BJP’s state unit in-charge Muralidhar Rao, the state unit’s outgoing president and Dharwad Lok Sabha member Prahlad Joshi, the party’s central ministers Ananth Kumar and Siddeshwar and the party’s former chief minister Jagadish Shettar also spoke briefly on the occasion, assuring full support assistance to Yeddyurappa in reviving the party’s fortunes in the state.