On the advice of his trusted numerologist, BS Yeddyurappa, 76, has gone back to the original spelling of his name - Yediyurappa.
Yediyurappa, a three-time chief minister who has never completed a term and whose last stint in 2018 ended in two days, is leaving nothing to chance as he starts his fourth term. "Yeddy", as he is popularly called, is all set to be sworn in alone today.
Amit Shah, BJP president, would have preferred to tread cautiously on Karnataka but gave in after an emotional Yediyurappa called him at midnight and said it was his "last chance to be Karnataka CM".
Shah also had "Madam Shobha" or Shobha Karandlaje, MP from Udupi-Chikmagalur and close Yediyurappa confidante, hounding him relentlessly to set a date to stake claim to form government in Karnataka.
An exasperated Shah told her in parliament that he also had "some other work and could not focus on Karnataka alone".
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa has multiple relay pujas on at his home in Bengaluru and a 24-hour "havan" for his village deity in Yediyur village in Tumakuru district.
Apart from persuading Shah, Yediyurappa has been closeted with astrologers, numerologists and even tarot card readers to ensure that he can complete a full term as Karnataka Chief Minister.
The BJP has an unofficial retirement age of 75, and, under Shah, has imposed it relentlessly. Yediyurappa was the exception even when he took over as chief minister in May last year, after the Karnataka polls.
"From the day the coalition government was sworn in, Yediyurappa has been relentless, launching Operation Lotus at least half-a-dozen times over the past year," say sources. (Operation Lotus is what critics call the BJP's strategy to topple governments by pulling away lawmakers).
"This time, Yediyurappa managed to succeed with a little help from Congress leader Siddaramaiah. If the party had not agreed to let him form government in Karnataka, Yediyurappa would have destroyed the BJP in Karnataka."
The sources say Shah agreed after initial reluctance - despite the numbers not appearing to add up - because the BJP now needs to display that it is a pan-India party with a government in south India. Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi envision the BJP as the dominant pole of politics and the optics of a government in the south helps.
This clearly is Version 2 of the BJP under Amit Shah. In 2008, Yediyurappa was forced by the party to resign over the Rs 1,000-crore illegal mining scam.
Yediyurappa's relationship with the central BJP was turbulent in those days.
Today, Yediyurappa, Shah and Modi are all on the same page.
The party commands huge resources when it comes to sequestering legislators and using private aircraft to ferry them. There are loud whispers of legislators switching loyalties for unimaginable sums as the BJP systematically destroyed the majority commanded by the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular.
Several Congress leaders say the BJP wrecked the coalition using money and implicit threats of investigation by central agencies such as Income Tax and CBI. Hushed whispers are doing the rounds that former chief minister Siddaramaiah, who has a huge rivalry with HD Deve Gowda and his son HD Kumaraswamy, made available dossiers to Yediyurappa on the legislators to be targeted.
Two days after the Congress-JDS coalition lost the trust vote, Yediyurappa today told Governor Vajubhai Vala that he wanted to be sworn in exactly at 6 pm today as it was the most "auspicious" time for him.
Yediyurappa's astrologers have told him that his "inauspicious period" ends at 4 pm today.
Clearly, Yediyurappa's time has come as he fulfils his dream of being Chief Minister. The voters of Karnataka, who have witnessed the ugliest form of horse-trading, must be now praying for governance.
(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)
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