Having been associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from his college days, Yediyurappa’s public service began when he was appointed as Karyavahi (Secretary) of the Sangh’s Shikaripur unit in 1970. He was appointed President of the Shikaripura taluk unit of the BJP and later went on to become the president of BJP’s Shimoga district unit in 1985. In 1988, he became the State President of the BJP in Karnataka. He was first elected to the lower house of the Karnataka Legislature in 1983 and has since represented the Shikaripura constituency six times.
He has been a member of the Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth and Thirteenth Legislative Assemblies (lower house) of Karnataka. B. S. Yeddyurappa is the only politician who has defied BJP central leadership for a very long time. BJP has put a cap of 75 years for holding active political posts like CM, Ministers, MP, MLA etc. Post that age prominent leaders are either nominated as governors to different states or are designated as members of ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ (Mentorship cell). Yediyurappa just challenged that norm successfully and has managed to become CM for the fourth time.
Yediyurappa lost his chair and was subsequently jailed due to an adverse ‘Lokayukta’ report implicating him in various corruptions. Yediyurappa bear that as well and has successfully placed himself in the chair for the fourth time. But how does he manage to defy the central BJP and RSS leadership with impunity. His first stint in power was when he helped Janata Dal (Secular) leader H. D. Kumaraswamy to bring down the coalition government headed by Dharam Singh and form an alternative government with BJP.
An agreement was made between the JD(S) and BJP, which specified that H. D. Kumaraswamy would be the Chief Minister for the first 20 months, after which Yediyurappa would become the Chief Minister for the remaining 20 months. Yediyurappa became the Deputy Chief Minister as well as the finance minister in Kumaraswamy’s Government. Yediyurappa and Kumaraswamy during the coalition government with JDS in 2006.
However, in October 2007, when it was Yediyurappa’s turn to become Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy refused to relinquish his post. This forced Yediyurappa and all the ministers from his party to resign and on 5 October, the BJP formally withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy government. Karnataka came under President’s rule which was revoked on 7 November as the JD(S) and the BJP decided to bury their differences and this paved the way for Yediyurappa to become the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
He resigned from his position as Member of Legislative Assembly and primary membership of Bharatiya Janata Party on 30 November 2012 and formally launched the Karnataka Janata Paksha. It is said that his former colleague and senior BJP leader Anna Vinayachandra was the key person who led the movement at the national level to demand expulsion from the party which led to his resignation. Although the party and its name were registered in April 2011, Yediyurappa actually launched it in 2012. He got elected as an MLA from Shikaripura Constituency (Shimoga district) in May 2013.
In 2016, BJP re-appointed him as the President of the Karnataka state BJP unit. He was BJP’s CM candidate in the 2018 Karnataka Legislative Assembly election. But the party managed to win only 104 seats, short of a simple majority by 9 numbers. During the aftermath of the 2018 Karnataka Legislative assembly elections, Yediyurappa was invited to form the government and become the Chief Minister by the Governor citing that his party was the single largest in the house with 104 seats (8 short of the majority in the assembly). He was sworn in on 17 May 2018 by Governor Vajubhai Vala, becoming the Chief Minister of Karnataka for the third time. He was given 15 days to prove the majority by the governor but the Supreme Court intervened and cut it short to just 24 hours and ordered a floor test (trust vote) soon after. The trust vote was to be held on 19 May 2018 at 4 pm. Before the trust vote was to begin, however, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa gave an emotional speech, following which he resigned citing that he will be unable to prove the majority.
In July 2021, with speculations of leadership change in BJP Karnataka for over several months, on 26 July 2021, he emotionally announced resignation to the post of Chief Minister during his speech on the 2 years anniversary of his government, which turned out to be his farewell speech as the Chief Minister of the state. He also cited the 75 years age-limit rule in BJP. During the speech, he went through his memories of his 45-year political career.