Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, referred to as BSY, might have taken oath as the Chief Minister of Karnataka four times, the most by any politician ever in the history of the state. However, he has not been able to complete his term even once, which makes him most unfortunate at the helm of affairs in the state as well.
Incidentally, 15 men have been picked to the top cabinet position in the state since it was renamed in 1973 from its former identification as the State of Mysore.
Only three of them — D Devaraj Urs (1972-1977), S M Krishna (1999-2004), and Siddaramaiah (2013-2018) — either completed their terms or dissolved their governments in the final days of their tenure and all of them hailed from the Indian National Congress.
Urs was not able to complete his tenure as he resigned on January 7, 1980 after a fallout with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after which he started his own faction within the Congress party. However, with several of his MLAs deciding to join Gandhi’s faction after her victory in the same year’s general elections, he was replaced by R Gundu Rao who then continued till the end of the sixth assembly in Karnataka till January 1983.
Ramakrishna Hegde, who took oath as the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Karnataka, decided to resign a year after his 1983 victory on a Janta Party ticket. Hegde cited poor performance of his party in the 1984 Lok Sabha election while seeking a fresh mandate for his government after tendering a resignation. However, even as he emerged victorious again in the 1985 state assembly polls, he again resigned in 1988 following allegations of corruption.
Janata party’s S R Bommai then replaced him as the CM but only for 281 days after which the Governor dismissed his government as they lost trust in the House.
The Congress made a comeback in the election in the ninth legislative assembly of Karnataka and Veerendra Patil was picked to lead the government. However, he could not complete even a year as he was sacked by the then INC president Rajiv Gandhi following the 1990 communal violence in the state. S Bangarappa was his immediate replacement but was asked (by Rajiv Gandhi) to resign from the post (citing health issues) two years and 33 days after he took oath as the 12th CM of the state.
Subsequently, M Veerappa Moily was the CM for a term of two years and 22 days before which the tenure of the ninth assembly ended. In the 1994 state polls that followed, Janata Dal became the single largest party in the state with H D Devegowda taking over as the CM. However, one and a half years later, Devegowda resigned to take over as the PM, the only person from Karnataka to do so.
J H Patel was then picked to complete the remaining three years and 129 days as the CM of the state till the 1999 assembly polls.
After the S M Krishna-led government’s rule till 2004 for the subsequent elections, Congress leader Dharam Singh was elected as the CM of the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Singh could also not complete his term as JD(S) defected to form the government with BJP with H D Kumaraswamy becoming the CM for the first time on February 3, 2006.
It was decided that the term would be shared by Kumaraswamy and BSY but after the end of his half of the term, Kumaraswamy refused to hand it over to BSY, which led to the government getting dissolved and President’s rule came into force.
Following the President’s rule, Yediyurappa took oath as the CM for the first time on November 12, 2007 but he was forced out of rule within a week as indifferences repeated to stem out between BJP and JD(S). The state had no representation till the end of May 2008 when Yediyurappa became CM once again as BJP emerged as the single largest party in the assembly election.
Yediyurappa then served his longest term —three years and 66 days — after which he was convicted for illegal profiteering by the state Lokayukta, forcing him to resign as pressure mounted from the central committee of his party. This paved the way for D V Sadananda Gowda to become the CM on August 5, 2011 but he too had to resign due to in-party conflicts within a year. Jagadish Shettar then took over to complete the remaining 304 days of the tenure earmarked for the 13th Legislative Assembly.
Yediyurappa was again invited by the Governor to form the government in May 2018 after BJP emerged the single largest party with 105 members. However, the government lasted only for two days with Yediyurappa unable to prove his majority in the 224-member house where the Congress-JDS combination mustered a superior number of 116.
Kumaraswamy emerged at the favourable end of the coalition as he took the oath with the support of Congress on May 23, 2018 but the post-poll alliance failed yet again as 17 MLAs chose to defect to the BJP after a month-long political crisis in July 2019.
However, BSY-led BJP defeated the Congress-JD(S) coalition in a trust vote on July 23, 2019, following which, BSY took over as the CM again to be in office till the day his government completed two years of rule on July 26, 2021.
The setbacks faced by BSY, even though he is considered a leader who has built the party in the state, seems to have never faded away. BSY had even changed the spelling of his name to his older spelling used in 2007, before taking oath for the fourth time on July 26, 2019. He used the spelling Yeddyurappa, where an extra ‘d’ replaced the ‘i’ for the years in between. However, fortune did not favour the veteran politician this time as well.
Earlier, even CMs during the phase in which the state was called Mysore, had failed to complete five-year terms without interruptions. They include K Chengalaraya Reddy (Oct 25, 1947 to March 30, 1952), Kengal Hanumanthaiah (four years and 142 days till August 19, 1956), Kadidal Manjappa (72 days till October 31, 1956), S Nijalingappa (November 1, 1956 – May 16, 1958 and June 21, 1962 to May 28, 1968), B D Jatti (May 16, 1958 – March 9, 1962), S R Kanthi (March 14, 1962 – June 20, 1962) and Veerendra Patil (May 29, 1968 – March 18, 1971).