Posts Tagged ‘H.D. Kumaraswamy’

The difference, of course, is just Rs 9,97,500,000

21 April 2009

Everybody and his dog knows that the Election Commission’s “lakshman rekha” of an expense limit of Rs 25 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in the big States of the Union, including Karnataka, is a bit of a joke.

But the joke, sadly, is on us. Former Karnataka chief minister and Janata Dal state president H.D. Kumaraswamy in an interview with Prannoy Roy of NDTV aired on Monday night blithely declared numbers that should, well, numb the EC:

Prannoy Roy: How much do you per constituency they are spending?

Kumarasway: BJP, minimum, there are spending Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore [per constituency]. In Shimoga, where chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s son B.Y. Raghavendra is contesting, the figure could go up to Rs 100 crore.”

View the video: ‘Forming government with BJP is ruled out’

Also read: Money flows in LS campaign

Good news: Karnataka beats Kerala, Andhra, Tamil Nadu

Yedi is fiddling when namma naadu is burning

28 February 2009

download3

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: This picture, of school boys and girls, was not shot at some traditional gurukul in some god forsaken part of Karnataka in the middle of the 20th century.

It was shot at a government-run school in Bidadi, barely an hour from the IT capital of India, Bangalore, in the ninth year of the twenty-first.

Construction of the building for the school and two others was taken up during H.D. Kumaraswamy‘s reign as chief minister, but has since been discontinued for “lack of funds”.

Looking at the picture, you should wonder:

1. Why is our chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa donating crores of rupees (Rs 130 crore to be precise) to temples  and mutts for prayers to be conducted for the wellbeing of the people of Karnataka, and to remove the ill-effects of the ‘poor administration’ of previous governments, when children are sitting on bare, hard soil under a scorching sun for lack of funds to build a roof on their head?

2. Why do we waste lakhs of rupees bringing in Gangajal when we cannot supply Cauvery water even to people in Mysore, located 18 km from the Cauvery, on a regular basis for drinking purposes? 50,000 gallons of Gangajal was brought to the State at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh. What moksha will people get by having the prokshane of Gangajal on them when they cannot get water to quench their thirst or when their children have to sit under the scorching sun in a school because of a “regime-change”?

3. When there are power cuts all through the day and night, all across the State, and children and students have a horrid time preparing for their tests and exams, how does it help to light up lakhs of bulbs by illuminating the Mysore Palace for tourists on one extra day of the week,  Saturday, on top of spending obscene millions on prayers and Gangajal? Have the district in-charge minister Shobha Karandlaje,  and the district administration lost all sense of proportion?

4. Why is our government arranging ‘lectures’ on terrorism by forcing principals to send students  and spending money on these futile exercises, especially in exam season? It is the police who have to take on the terrorists and need equipment, training, skills to combat the sophisticated, technology-savvy terrorists. Our Police are poorly paid, with only a lathi and a whistle as their ‘equipment’ most times. Their living quarters are an insult to them and their families. They are pawns in a never-ending political tug-of-war. They don’t even have proper bulletproof jackets thanks to corruption. Instead of strengthening our police force, instead improving the morale why are we totally ‘out of focus’ by dragging students in to this. Perhaps educating them is a good idea, but it should come much later when we have done the primary job of strengthening the police in all respects.

Why is the BJP government totally ‘out of focus’ on so many issues?

Why doesn’t it tackle urgent issues on a priority basis rather than in a medieval fashion?

Why does it spend millions to issue advertisements to crow about the great feats achieved by it?

The BJP came to power on a wave of sympathy over what the JDS had done to it. It came to power riding the high  hopes of a people disenchanted with the Congress and JDS. But it is gradually losing all that by tackling irrelevant things and functioning in an outmoded style.

Why is Yediyurappa/ Yeddyurappa fiddling when namma cheluva naadu is, well, burning with issues, crying for attention?

Also read: Yella not OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

Don’t gift them fish. Teach them how to fish

Can Azim Premji do that the government can’t/ won’t?

Ask not what they have given but what you have

3 January 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: It’s a time to give; it’s time to hand over gifts to the important and not so important, for their contributions in the year gone by.

***

To the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan: a pair of parrots

To Condoleezza Rice: A weighing balance

To Asif Ali Zardari: 10% of Best ‘Non- state Actor’ Cash Award

To Shivaraj Patil: A new, tighter bandh-gala

To Vilas Rao Deshmukh: A role in Ram Gopal Varma‘s film Mujhe Kya Hua?

To V.S. Achuthanandan: A dog’s role in an untitled Malayalam film

To Rahul Gandhi: Omar Abdullah’s new book ‘How I did it

To Raj Thackeray: A taxi from the Bombay taxi drivers association

To George W. Bush: Shoes of all sizes from Iraqi children

To the government of B.S. Yediyurappa: A users’ guide to ‘How to keep your State No.1 in corruption?’

To Anitha Kumaraswamy: A guide on ‘How to manage husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law’

To the commuters on NICE road: A nice Tirupati haircut

To Ricky Ponting: A barrel to stare through

To 2008: A ‘Don’t ever come back’ card!

***

Want to give a gift to someone you love (or don’t)? Tell us.

Nepotism on the one hand, sexism on the other

8 December 2008

KPN photo

Two years ago, finding a clean, publishable picture of Nikhil Gowda, the son-of-the-son-of-the-son-of-the-soil, was well nigh impossible, after the Hummer-driving college dropout and two of his pals ransacked Hotel Empire on Church Street and beat up employees when they were refused biryani at 3.30 in the morning.

Today, on the eve of Bakrid, the strapping young man (second from right) surfaced with proud papa H.D. Kumaraswamy, as mother Anita Kumaraswamy filed her nomination papers as the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate for the by-elections to the Madhugiri assembly constituency.

***

Fittingly for a party whose only reference points are in a long-ago past, the BJP spokesman, V. Dhananjay Kumar, was first off the blocks with staggering sexism:

“I wish Deve Gowda‘s family is not reduced to the same position as that of the Pandavas, who pledged their wife in the gamble.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Popularity=No. of people you can inconvenience?

24 November 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Ace Political Expert (APE) had blisters all over his feet as he had to walk more than 6 km last Monday after waiting for around four hours to catch a BMTC bus.

When I met him in his house, he had his feet in a tub of hot water and salt.

“What went wrong on Manic Monday? Didn’t you anticipate this kind of a thing?” I asked.

“Everything that could go wrong went wrong that day. It was foolish to have organized such a rally on a Monday morning in the heart of the city,” said APE.

“But H.D. Kumaraswamy says he had already informed the police chief Shankar Bidri and taken his permission.”

“Yes. That was the second mistake. Only infantile minds would want to do a rally in the centre of the city on the first week of the week and an equally similar mind would give the approval. The father-son duo should have anticipated this and taken some precautionary steps,” said the APE applying hot sponge to the blisters.

“Like what?”

“They could have asked the head masters/ head mistresses of schools to declare a holiday so that the future citizens, if they survive similar rallies in the future, could stay home and watch / play cricket when the coronation of the son goes on… Similarly, they could have warned prospective critical patients to call for ambulances and got admitted to hospitals previous night itself, instead of disturbing the rally.”

I was surprised by what he said but kept quiet as I felt previous day’s trauma might have affected the contents of his cortex.

“Very true. Precaution should have been the watchword of at least, patients.”

“Likewise, they could have asked those catching flights to go the airport the previous night itself and sleep there. There is enough place for half of Bangalore to sleep there. As far as IT/bitty is concerned the less said, the better.”

“Say something.”

“They are a pampered lot. They might be a Rs 60,000 crore industry, but do they ever care to understand the problems of the common man that the rally was trying to address? When they are earning so much couldn’t they have declared holiday on the day of the rally? That is the least they could have done to strengthen democracy in India.”

“What did JD(S) achieve by this rally?”

“It proved a great success and I won’t be surprised if they hold bigger rallies by getting everybody in Karnataka to come Bangalore the next time. It will be something like the crowds they had for ‘Quit India’ Movement held in Gowalia Tank Mumbai in 1942,” replied the APE.

As I took his leave, I thought, if they both announced a ‘Quit Karnataka’ Movement, the whole of Bangalore  will pour in to the street creating the mother of all gridlocks and traffic jams….

Mahabharatha author can’t see end to family saga

17 November 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was sitting on the banks of the Ganga in Rudra Prayag. The place was enchanting. If Life is Eternity, here is a place you could almost trace it back.

As I sat there totally engrossed in the scenery, I saw sage Vyasa taking a stroll.

“Vyasa munivar! Namaskara. I never thought I could see you in flesh and blood. It is just wonderful to see and speak to you.”

“Thank you. I too feel after eons in time, man more or less remains the same.”

“You will be glad to know we rank Mahabharatha as one of the greatest stories ever told. I want to know how you felt when you wrote about Dhritharashtra and Duryodhana. What were you trying to depict in their relationship?”

Putra Vyamoha. Basically, Dhritharashtra was blind on two counts. Physically he couldn’t see what his son was up to. He was also blind to all his dhushkriyas. His blind love betrayed his sense of reason and reality.”

“Is that why Krishna replaced Bhima with a steel structure, otherwise he would have crushed him in his embrace?”

“Of course. But I find even now people are blind when it comes to their children. They unnecessarily pamper and baby them so much, it becomes their undoing in the end. They have just not learnt their lessons although they quote Mahabharatha every second breath.”

“You are a Trikaala Gnani. How do you feel about our present times?”

“I find parents resorting to hook and crook to promote their children. When their efforts fail, they lose their self-control. Margaret Alva’s sudden outburst because a ticket was denied to her son Nivedit Alva in an election is an indication of the malaise. Doesn’t she know there will be different strokes for different people in their response?”

He is up-to-date on what’s happening, I thought, though his choice of words flummoxed me.

“I didn’t get you. Could you elaborate?”

“If she thought she was from a minority community and therefore would be forgiven for her outburst, she was sadly mistaken. She should have known though she was from a minority, in the eyes of her bosses, she was not from a community her chairperson would give her right arm for! Alva’s calculation went woefully wrong. She should know she is no C.K. Jaffer Sharief!”

I was impressed with Vyasa’s deep insight into our religion based politics which often baffles best of our TV pundits.

“Your knowledge of our current affairs is just amazing although there was no democracy in your time as you were all ruled mostly by Kings.”

“But it is no different,” continued Vyasa, “I am puzzled by your so called democracy when parents are openly anointing sons as their successors. These days every politician is now a Dhrutharashtra. Even Dhrutharashtra did not do a coronation for his son like H.D. Deve Gowda did the other day. Puthra Vyamoha is all right up to a point, but he shouldn’t have ignored his other son Dushyasana.”

I could only marvel at his knowledge of what was happening down below.

Was Vyasa following Churumuri? Had he participated in the “Children’s Day Caption Contest” under a pseudonym?

Is he wondering where H.D. Revanna is, as everybody else is?

“You have deep knowledge of our political scenario. Being a trikaala gnani, you should be knowing the future too. What about Rahul Gandhi? Will he too become a victim of putra vyamoha? Also when will this Vamsha Paramparya in the Congress end?”

There was total silence. Vyasa was foxed, I thought.

“Look. I may have to do many more janmas and write many more Mahabharathas to answer this! In Mahabharatha, I ended the Pandava family with Bharatha as the last king of their vamsha. But I am not sure how many Janmas the Nehru-Gandhi vamsha will run….”

With that, Vyasa’s visage dissolved into the Ganga.

CHURUMURI CHILDREN’S DAY CAPTION CONTEST

11 November 2008

Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who took charge as president of the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka in Bangalore on Monday, is blessed by his father and JDS national chief, H.D. Deve Gowda.

Come up with a caption for this picture, and win a 1GB pendrive. Entries close at midnight on November 14.

Conditions apply.

Who would you like to see on the moon mission?

6 October 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: After the exciting launches of Chandrayaan I and II, the government quickly announced the dates for a manned spacecraft to land on the moon in the third Chandrayaan mission.

Along with space scientists, ISRO thought they should include the ‘Aam Admi’ for the historic mission. Applications were invited from various groups for possible selection. While some genuinely wanted to serve the cause of ISRO, others wanted to send their opponents thinking it may end up as a one-way ticket.

Since ISRO was planning to send a lunar vehicle, the all India truckers association chief Tractor Singh wanted a member of their association to be included in the team.

“Driving in the potholes of Grand Trunk road has given us the backbreaking experience of tackling any surface. Iske samne Chandrama kya chheez hain? We have enough experience of pushing our trucks even if the axle breaksdown in moon,” thundered Singh.

The Keraleeya Packet Lunch Sangham was the next to meet the ISRO chief.

“All we ever need is just a ladle and bandlee. With that we can whip up any food—Chinese, Punjabi, Mughalai, Chettinad, Udupi or any food which our astronauts want. If ISRO wants our scientists to come back safe and sound, better include our cooks as we can prepare food for any stomach to digest,” said their secretary.

Politicians, businessmen and sports stars too jumped into the fray.

The CPM chief Prakash Karat wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be packed off with the 123 agreement neatly folded in his packet with a quicker countdown ‘321’ for blastoff.  He offered to finance the project from the Leftists’ fund and raise more money from China if necessary.

The PM on the other hand wanted ISRO to send both Advaniji and Karat so that they could at least form a Progressive Party in moon.

Mamta Banerjee, having evicted the Tatas from Singur, thought Moon would be an ideal place for the Nano Project. But here too she wanted only 400 acres to be earmarked for Nano and not a square inch more.

Ratan Tata suggested they would bear all the costs, if the trigger-happy Ms Banerjee could be packed off to moon and beyond so that she could do as many dharnas as she wished to. They thought the lunar terrain somehow agreed with her mental makeup.

Each of the feuding Ambani brothers wanted the other sibling sent to moon.  Looking at the tumbling share market, Dalal Street and Nifty wanted both of them to be sent to moon to start their new ventures there without troubling the courts ever so often.

Cricket too had its share of choices.

Former Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, who originally wanted Sourav Ganguly to go to moon to practice fielding, has had a change of heart. Now he wants the new chairman of selectors dashing Kris Srikkanth be sent to sharpen his skill in logic and reasoning and practice running commentary in his spare time.

Closer home, H.D. Kumaraswamy, the former chief minister, thought B.S. Yediyurappa would be the ideal candidate for moon to maintain communal harmony in Karnataka.

The story doing the rounds in mining circles is that the CM, who talks only in terms of crores of rupees these days, has reportedly promised Rs 1,000 crore if the entire family of Deve Gowda migrates to Moon. When last reports came they were still negotiating the price and dates.

While ISRO is in a fix wondering whom to select from Aam Janata, they are also happy about the choices available to them for future lunar missions.

Do you have any candidate whom you wish to serve in moon?

The seeds of hatred are being forced to bear fruit

25 September 2008

D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: What is now happening in Karnataka is quite disturbing; almost  unthinkable. People like me who went to school and college in the 1980s and ’90s never imagined that one day our peaceful and harmonious State would be sliced and scythed so systematically on communal lines.

The seeds of communal politics sowed on our salubrious soil during L.K. Advani‘s rath yatra is now bearing fruit. Or is being genetically modified to bear fruit.

As the renowned writer and thinker Prof. U R Anantha Murthy writes:

“The Christians in the past had made contribution to the development of modern Kannada. Rev Kittel who composed the first Kannada dictionary was one of our revered ancestors. The Christians continue to run hospital and schools. Most of the gentle and caring nurses in hospitals are Christians.”

Not just that.

Many people from my father’s and grandfather’s generation always practised communal harmony and held Catholic missionaries in high esteem.

Thyanandur Puttannaiah, a religious Hindu and a remarkable man from my home district Shimoga, had dedicated his book “Naa kanda Malenaadu” (a definitive account on the hilly region of Malnad) to Christian missionaries!

It was not a surprising gesture during those days. He had great respect for them because of their social service. He truly believed that caring and loving Catholic nuns and priests had introduced modern civilisation to remote, inaccessible Malnad, which was known as a den of cholera and malaria during the British raj.

My grandfather believed that the entire generation of Kannadigas in the Malnad and Coastal Karnataka survived the dreaded diseases of cholera and malaria only because of the selfless service of Catholics in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The first Kannada newspaper Mangalooru Samachara was started by a missionary from Germany, Father Herman Mogling, in 1843. The Basel Mission Church published first books in Kannada.

The reverend Uttangi Channappa was a renowned Kannada folklorist, historian and reseracher of the 20th century.

The great English teachers like J.C. Roelho and Armando Menezes shaped Mysore and Karnatak Universities during their formative years. A Hindu majority coast wholeheartedly sent Joaquim and Margaret Alva, and the Lobo Prabhu, to Parliament; Oscar Fernandes five consecutive terms.

And let us not forget that George Fernandes is a Mangalorean and still a Mangalorean at heart. Roger Michael Humphrey Binny proudly wore the Karnataka cap as its captain in dozens of Ranji Trophy matches and made us happy.

These are just a few examples of thousands of other good and great Christians, who have immensely contributed to the Kannada culture and public life, in ways big and small.

The Bajrang Dal and other radical Hindu organisations either don’t know anything about our history or they don’t want the majority of Hindus to acknowledge the importance of Christianity in Karnataka.

The sangh parivar feels empowered after the BJP captured power in Karnataka in the elections last May. With or without the knowledge or consent of the government, radical organisations like the Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sena have unleashed a reign of terror in some parts of the State.

There are enough reasons to believe that a section in the ruling BJP is stoking the fires of inter-religious animosity in Karnataka for political reasons. Anti-Christian sentiment is travelling from the coast to the capital under a benign and benevolent government which seems to think it was sworn into office to protect and promote only one community.

It is difficult to belive that Oscar Fernandes represented the present epicentre of saffron politics Udupi in the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms between 1980-1998.

It is a fact, of course, that the neo-radical protestant evangelists like ‘New Life Church’ are coercing innocent, poor Hindus from the lower strata of the society and converting them in some parts of the State. There are serious allegations of money and other blandishments playing a big role in the conversions.

But Roman Catholics?

The single largest and oldest Christian community in the State is being attacked by right wing zealots. Perhaps, the semi-literate zealots do not know the difference between Catholics and other neo-radical evangelists.

Catholics are the most visible Christians because of their magnificent Churches, convents, colleges, seminaries, Cathedrals, Basilicas and hospitals. They are being made to pay the price for the alleged anti-Hindu activities of other Christian sects.

Even if the new sects are involved in large-scale conversion activities, Bajrang Dal or any other radical organisation has no right to take law unto its own hands and punish the guilty.

B.S. Yediyurappa should realise that he is chief minister of Karnataka and it is his Constitutional obligation to protect all religions and castes irrespective of the their political affiliations and leanings.

Another sad development is the complete politicisation of the entire issue.

When Karnataka is looking for a statesman to douse the raging communal flames, the Congress-led central government, the BJP government, and the idle and frustrated, JDS are all busy making political calculations. The selective invoking of the Article 355 by the UPA only against NDA-ruled Karnataka and Orissa has not gone down well even with non-BJP people from the State.

They feel that the Centre has no moral right to warn Karnataka and turn a blind eye to States like West Bengal or Tamil Nadu or even Maharashtra. The BJP is cleverly using it to consolidate votes and communalise the entire State. The wily old fox H.D. Deve Gowda also shouldn’t forget that nearly a dozen people were killed in communal clashes when his son H.D. Kumaraswamy was the chief minister.

“Secularists “, Congress, JDS etc can easily fool the benevolent media, but not the people.

Actually, they are aiding the BJP and other communal forces in their eagerness to prove their ‘secular’ credentials. Falling over each other for votes and 15 minutes of fame will finally end in their fall and the raise of communal elements. Gujarat is a shining example of that.

What the media thinks is negative publicity is actually positive news for communal elements. It helps them grow stronger.

Let’s also admit that Karnataka has not always been a tolerant state. But the core philosophy of Kannada and Karnataka have always been to live and let live. It was never divided on communal lines and the animosity was not everywhere.

Let us admit, as a distinguished Kannada author, Prof V. Sitaramiah, has pointed out:

“…that we have had our pettiness and feuds; our limitations of outlook and failures in achievement; our bloodbaths given and taken. Our chieftains have carried off brides from marriage pavilions; our warriors have destroyed men and lands when fiendish fits were on. In their turn, they have been invaded and their capital cities have been razed or burnt.”

“The history of all peoples has been much the same and littered with episodes good and not so good. But the long range value preference, the pride and grateful memory of Kannada poets has been, by and large, for tolerance and the arts of peace; for conservation.

“This is true not of poets alone but the Kannada people as a whole….

“Allied with this distrust of fanaticism and flamboyance is a certain unsparing insistence of self-discipline and style. It is expressed in the numerous stories about Visvesvaraya, in the fastidiousness of Generals Cariappa and Thimaya, in the philosophical volumes of Professor Hiriyanna and in the dance of Shanta Rao. In its gentler form it can be detected in the lines and brush strokes of K.K. Hebbar, in the glances and drives of G.R. Vishwanath, in the meditative aalaap of Mallikarjun Mansoor and in the prose of R.K. Narayan.”

As an obsessed Kannadiga, I feel hurt and sad.

Because, the carefully built image of my State has severely been dented.

As one journalist wrote, “Oh God forgive them for they know what they are doing.”

Also read: Does the identity of Anglo-Indians not count?

Only a third generation can double this rail line

21 September 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Praveen Kumar III of South Western Railway was gazing at the track between Srirangapatna and Naguvanahalli.

As he was staring at the track, his mind went back to circa 2008-2010.

His great-grandfather Praveen Kumar, who was entrusted with the task of expediting the task of doubling the Bangalore-Mysore track project had one day, had literally stumbled into a monument from the period of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatna.

Since monuments are sensitive matters, it was referred to the archaeological department to seek its concurrence before shifting it elsewhere.

Files in the archaeology department are never in a hurry and appear to wobble once in a decade in Karnataka. The approval for shifting the monument came on the same day when Praveen Kumar was due to retire from service. But the various agencies involved in shifting the monument—the public works department, the wakf board, railways, muzrai department, temple authorities—could not arrive at a mutually convenient date for their meeting.

Finally when they met, the Muslim board objected to shifting the monument during Ramzan; the temple authorities would not lift a finger during Shravanamasa. The archaeology department was yet to decide whether to classify the monument as a heritage piece or just a luggage. The PWD was busy building flyovers from Bangalore to Madras and Hyderabad on which cars could zoom in 2 hours and 3 hours to those cities respectively, to even bother.

So the project became comatose again.

When Kumaraswamy II became the chief minister of Karnataka, he too started doing village stays like his father. Once while eating ragi mudde marinated in Sula wine, his eyes fell on a paper beneath the mudde. The mudde would not go in as he found his affectionate father’s beautiful signature authorising the work between Bangalore and Ramanagaram.

HDK II left the dinner unfinished and began enquiring about the status of the project without even losing time to wash his hands.

He dashed off messages to railway minister and chairman of the railway board. Quick came their response. They appointed a young railway officer, Praveen Kumar II to handle this prestigious project. Praveen Kumar II flew in directly to Sriranagapatna from Delhi in his helicopter.

The Bangalore- Mysore project thus came out of ICU of railway hospital and started galloping like a “Flying Ranee”. Everybody hoped it would be completed by 2030.

But good things, as they say, do not last long, at least not in Karnataka.

No sooner had PK II solved the monument problem, they came across a foundation stone bang in the middle of the proposed track. Former and farmer prime minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, had come all the way to to lay it. A foundation stone with a pickaxe attached to it was found by the gang of workers.

After prostrating before the new sacred heritage structure, Kumaraswamy II decided not to shift the same and asked the engineers to find a solution.

The engineers after working for 5 years found they could encircle the heritage assembly with a poly carbon glass and take the track 20 ft. below the glass without touching it.

By the time the zilla panchayat and gram panchayats and the PWD, after quarterly interdepartmental notes, agreed to do the job, Yediyurappa III had taken over from Kumaraswamy II, who quickly reversed the earlier decision. He now wanted the tracks to go 20 feet above the foundation stone and refused to treat it as a heritage piece. He got it reclassified it as just a luggage.

Yediyurappa III like his grandfather was also a man in a furious hurry. He called Delhi to send an official to complete the project. Delhi beamed an officer who landed at the site in fifteen minutes through a jet propulsion robot much like ‘Scotty’.  As luck or ill luck would have it, it was Praveen Kumar III who landed at Naguvanahalli!

Thus, Praveen Kumar III found himself wondering whether the project would ever reach Mysore at all…

Finally, after several eras, if not eons, the double track project was completed and inaugurated by Rahul Nehru Gandhi III in 2080.

All the tahasildars, zilla panchayat and gram panchayat employees flew in their own helicopters powered by Indo-US nuclear fuel to attend the inauguration.

Since railways had stopped running trains from 2060, as a mark of respect, it was decided to run a special train once to mark the centenary of the fast track project. The nearly 200-year-old coal-based steam engine, was brought out of its shed to pull the Mysore-Bangalore Priyanka Express for the first and last time on the newly built track.

Gifts for someone you love & someone you don’t

8 June 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN is in an expansive mood.

From the millions he has stashed away in various Swiss banks, after a long and distinguished career with leading transnational corporations in several cities, he has decided to give something to our movers and shakers who have everything.

Here’s a list of what he has sent.

To B.S. Yediyurappa: A mobile homa kunda with built-in vaastu indicator

To H.D. Kumaraswamy: A free homestay package in villages, valid for next 60 months

To H.D. Deve Gowda: A simputor to work out permutations and combinations of probable defections

To Rahul Dravid: The leftover stocks of Royal Challenge

To Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar: A common IPL-ICL Trophy for next year

To Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathy: A copy of the hit CD, ‘He likes me, He likes me not

To Shah Rukh Khan: A copy of the unreleased film Harbo, Harbo, Harbo

To Shane Warne: A BCI assignment to coach Indian captains using SMS

To S.M. Krishna: Governorship of unnamed State for 10 years before next election

To the Gujjars in Rajasthan: Arjun Singh as their leader for life

To Rahul Gandhi: Longer learning curve with higher stool

To Manmohan Singh: A fresh oxygen cylinder to get more breathing time

To Barack Obama: The keys to the White House

To Clinton Hillary: The keys to the outhouse

To Clinton Bill: The duplicate Keys

So, what gift would you like to give to whom?

The greatest dream in the history of democracy

23 May 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was watching Sreenivasan Jain trying to moderate the dog (?) fight between Margaret Alva and Sushma Swaraj amidst some invited guests on NDTV and wondering how difficult it was for pollsters to predict a winner.

It’s become worse than guessing an IPL 20-20 winner, I thought, except of course when Vijay Mallya is serving his RC.

As the lids closed over my eyes on results day, I could hear Prannoy Roy….

It was one of the greatest victories for democracy in the world. S. M. Krishna, who came to bring Congress back to power, got 75 seats. H.D. Deve Gowda, who had stepped down from national politics to fight local elections, also got 75 seats. The junior most among the three, B.S. Yediyurappa, got 73 seats.

The only independent in the 224-seat Assembly was M. Lakshmana from Mysore.

If this was not historic enough, the three parties pledged to bury their differences and form a united government for the welfare of the people.

For the first time in the history of Indian politics, there would be no Opposition—the lone member Lakshmana would constitute the responsible benches.

The Chief Minister wouldn’t be a person, but a committee.

The Government led by Krishna, Gowda and Yedi took their oath simultaneously from Bangalore, Hassan and Shimoga which was seen in all villages across the State, thanks to a simultaneous live telecast on Chandana TV.

Sonia Gandhi became the chairperson and Deve Gowda agreed to be deputy Chairperson of the government of United National Farmers and Information Technology. (UNFIT).

Thus Karnataka became the first State ever, officially to have an UNFIT government of the people, for the people, by the people.

The new government started its work as if it had been struck by a tsunami.

Gowda, not only echoed the views of Krishna and announced distribution of free TV and rice at Rs. 2 a kilo but also added ragi to the list. Not to be outdone, Krishna doubled the reservation of jobs to 60% for Kannadigas in the IT, BT sector, which was originally a Deve Gowda idea. Yediyurappa announced distribution of free cycles for teachers all over the State and promised to open a cycle factory. He also promised to clear their pending salaries within the next couple of months.

SMK called the PWD minister H.D. Revanna and exhorted him to make Bangalore a Singapore as well as Shanghai, the latter being Deve Gowda’s pet dream whenever he dozed off on the dais.

Revanna ordered all JCBs to be rounded up to immediately acquire lands for the same.

Gowda embraced Ashok Kheny and asked him to create the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor at the earliest and assured him no roadblocks this time. He authorized his sons to ensure Kheny got whatever land he wanted.

What’s more, the humble farmer from Holenarsipur made an impassioned plea to N.R. Narayana Murthy to let bygones be bygones and handle the IT responsibilities of the Government.

The UNFIT government announced to and fro free travel by helicopter for passengers to and from Devanahalli Airport.

A small dispute arose when Deve Gowda insisted that the airport be called “S.M. Krishna International Airport” which was rejected by Krishna who wanted it be called “H.D. Deve Gowda International Airport”.

Finally, a sort of compromise was reached; it was decided to name the arrival terminal as “Deve Gowda International Arrival Terminal” (DEGOIT) and the departure terminal as “Krishna International Departure Terminal” (KRIDET). Likewise the National terminals were also apportioned in the names of H.D. Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa.

There was prosperity everywhere.

People eating top-quality rice at Rs2 a kilo all the time put on weight watching IPL matches on the free colour TV. Tourists from Shanghai and Singapore flocked to Bangalore to gape at the city and Revanna and wondered how their cities would look if only they modernized their cities on similar lines.

The UNFIT leaders decided to go to Delhi to meet the high command. But Soniaji herself called to inform she was coming with Manmohanji to accord classical status to Kannada. It was decided to arrange a grand reception in the open space opposite Vidhana Soudha an the stage would be called “Sonia Gandhi Manch” for that day.

Sonia had decided to give a speech in Kannada this time script written in Kannada. She had decided to give a surprise to Kannadigas by dressing like “Onake Obavva” with an onake (pistle) in hand while delivering the speech.

The lone opposition member was initially invited for the function. Later apprehending, he might raise uneasy questions like Chamalapura Thermal Plant, 24×7 Cauvery water for Mysore, they dropped the idea.

Black flag demonstrations were banned in the vicinity.

Soniaji arrived on stage with a onake in hand and banged it on the dais to get the attention of the audience. She started off with “Anna thammandire matthu akka thangiare, Nimagellarigu Namaskara…”

I woke up with a start. The remote control had dropped from my lap and hit the ground.

My wife was shouting.. . “Yellri! The mining belt is fighting election with helicopters and guns. Dishum dishum yuddha shuruvaythu.”

The greatest experiment in democracy in Karnataka was over.

‘Is Government of Karnataka = Bangalore = IT?’

7 May 2008

“The government of Karnataka cannot be the government of Bangalore. The government of Bangalore cannot be the government of the IT industry. That was the mistake the previous government [of S.M. Krishna] made. That overemphasis cost us three-and-a-half years of development [during the Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy regimes]; in real terms maybe ten years of development…. There is no question the IT companies need to do more, but the multinational companies which are so well entrenched here also need to step in.”

Subroto Bagchi of Mindtree, in conversation with Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV, on a special election-eve program, Vote for Bangalore

New poll predicts Congress sweep in Bangalore

7 May 2008

A pre-poll survey of the 89 constituencies going to the elections on Saturday is predicting 42-45 seats for the Congress, 22-24 for the BJP, and 19-21 for the JDS, 0-1 for the BSP. In 2004, the JDS had bagged 34 seats, Congress 19, BJP 10 in the 9 districts, not counting Chikkaballapur and Ramanagara/m.

The Congress is expected to get a voteshare of 39 per cent, BJP 24 per cent, JDS 22 per cent.

In Bangalore, where the number of seats has shot up from 12 to 28, the poll predicts 17-18 for the Congress, 9-10 for the BJP, and 0-1 for the JDS, others are predicted to get 0-1. In 2004, when there were 12 seats, the Congress had 8, BJP 3 and JDS 1.

The survey has been conducted for the New Indian Express, Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News by the polling agency C-Fore. The sample size was 3,000 randomly chosen voters. The margin of error is +/- 3 per cent, according to pollster Premchand Palety.

# Asked which party coming to power was better for Karnataka, 42 per cent respondents said Congress, 29 per cent said BJP, and 24 per cent said JDS.

# Respondents said the most important issues facing them in the election was drinking water (25%), infrastructure (21%), price rise (18%), corruption (10%).

# 57 per cent said the BJP-JDS coalition was better than the Congress-JDS coalition (43 per cent). 53 per cent said the JDS was not right to pull the plug in its alliance with BJP, while 21 per cent agreed with the move.

# Asked if there was a need for a regional party in Karnataka as articulated by former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, 66 per cent said no, 34 per cent said yes.

Also read: Each one take one, polls to please all

Our fate is ‘hung’ as score reads 1-1 in war of polls

Second poll too gives Congress the edge

CHURUMURI POLL: Should EC ban pre-poll surveys?

Everybody is stark naked in the public bathroom

6 May 2008

Law makers are now law breakers. In the 89 assembly constituencies going to the polls on Saturday in Phase 1 of polling, there are 47 candidates with a criminal record, according to a report prepared by Karnataka Election Watch committee of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Among the major parties, the JDS has 13 candidates with a criminal record, BJP has 12 and the Congress 10. Several of them are charged with violent crime like murder, attempt to murder, assault with deadly weapons and so on.

There are 14 candidates who have declared “Very High” assets of over Rs 30 crore. Of these 7 are from the Congress, 5 are from the BJP, and 2 from the JDS. This represents a very steep increase in the number of such candidates from the 2004 assembly elections. Some have declared assets well over Rs 100 crore.

Former BJP minister R. Ashok (in picture), who is standing from Padmanabhanagar in Bangalore, has shown a jump in assets by 2604%. From assets of Rs 3,718,756 in 2004, Ashok now boasts of assets of Rs 100,581,668.

JDS has 19,Then there are candidates who have “High Assets” between Rs 5 crore and Rs 30 crore. The Congress has 21, BJP has 14 and BSP 9. In spite of having such high assets, some of them have not declared their IT PAN numbers as required by the Election Commission.

Among those who have not submitted their PAN numbers are H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna.

There are 33 candidates who have declared very low assets of Rs. 1 lakh or less. The SP has 12, BSP has 11, JDU has 5, Congress has 2, JDS has 2 and BJP has 1.

As many as 82 candidates reported a very steep increase in total assets between the 2004 Assembly Elections and this election. The average increase in assets was a huge 677%.

28 candidates of Congress have declared assets totalling 147.3 crore, representing a jump of 561%. 25 candidates of the JDS have declared assets of Rs 20.52 crore, representing a jump of 1292%. And 20 candidates of the BJP have declared assets of Rs 114.4 crore, representing a jump of 532%.

A total of 49 candidates with criminal records are contesting the Phase 1 elections. JDS has 13 candidates, BJP has 12 candidates, Congress has 10, BSP has 9, JDU 1, KCVP 1, and SP 1.

The three major parties have shown a decline in the percentage of candidates with criminal records. The criminal charges include murder, attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and death threats, grievous injury with deadly weapons, forgery and cheating. There are at least 8 candidates from the major parties with murder or attempt to murder cases against them.

62 candidates of the BSP have not declared their PAN numbers even though the affidavits they submit to the Returning Officers requires them to do so. The JDS has 44 such candidates, the Congress has 42, and the BJP has 40.

KEW’s conclusion: The overall quality of candidates leaves much to be desired. The criminal records in particular are a little alarming. Unless this trend is checked, elections, democracy and overall governance will suffer. A lot of candidates are industrialists from the real estate, liquor, mining and other businesses. Unless business interests are aligned to citizen interests this raises interesting questions about governance and democracy. A lot of candidates have reported huge increase in their assets. This also needs to be investigated so that public trust is restored.

(KEW is part of a nationwide movement to improve democracy. It is a citizen led non-political, non-partisan effort. This time several NGOs activists and civil society organizations in Karnataka are participating in this effort)

If 20 months could make Kumara a Kubera, then…

26 April 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was frowning as she peered at her voter identity card.

“Don’t you like your picture, ajji,” I asked.

“Like? They have made me look like a cross between Puthni and Shoorphanaka. This is what you get when your picture is taken from a computer. I tried to smile as usual while facing the camera. The typist sitting there asked me not to move. When I tried to see who is ordering me about, my picture was already taken. I look terrible!”

“Don’t worry. You will use this only once in 5 years or whenever there is an election. By the way, have you decided which party you are going to vote for?”

Krishna paramathma had promised he will take birth in any yuga to destroy the evil forces whenever they exceed the good. As promised, S.M. Krishna landed here to take the Congress party to moksha. But there are more evil forces in his own party! His party is also heading for ‘Yadavi Kalaha’ at each turn. They are on ‘self-destruct’ mode like Yadavas. I am not sure if Congress will survive at the end.”

“What about BJP?”

“They have a Bhishma pithamaha in L.K. Advani. He is once again ready to hop into a chariot wearing his kirita, bow and arrow to dash off to fight an unknown enemy. But he has with him two permanently quibbling brothers, Chitraveerya and VichitraveeryaB.S. Yediyurappa and Ananth Kumar—who have to be kept apart lest they finish each other. I am again not sure about BJP.”

“Then Only JD(S) is left, like the gaade goes, ‘Haaloorige ulidavane Gowda antha! Will you then vote for JD(S)?”

Appa makkala kathene bere. Kumaranna papa; he spent most of his time sleeping on the bare ground in villages eating kadalekayi and bella. Yet he has become a Kuberanna in just 20 months! If he becomes a CM for a full term, he will end up as Kuberana appa!”

“Then you are not going to vote any of the parties? What will you do with your precious vote?”

“You have not taken me to Rameshwara so far. At least take me to Rameshwar Thakur’s Janata Darshan. I want to vote for him. Let him continue. It is the best thing that can happen for all of us,” said Ajji.

The genesis of the great Hegde-Gowda rivalry

26 April 2008

The Congress’ move to put up Mamata Nichani against H.D. Kumaraswamy in Ramanagara/m has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. But as Johnson T.A. writes in the Indian Express, the coming contest recaptures a bitter rivalry between two of Karnataka’s foremost non-Congress leaders: Mamata’s father Ramakrishna Hegde and Kumaraswamy’s father H.D. Deve Gowda.

Hegde’s ascension to the chief minister’s gaddi in 1983 sowed the seeds of the rivalry between Hegde and Gowda but three specific incidents during the Janata rule are believed to have blown away the semblance of civility between the two.

# The first was when Hegde chose to nominate his then family lawyer Ram Jethmalani to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. Gowda and his supporters within the Janata Party resented the choice of ‘an outsider’ and threatened to boycott voting on the day of the elections.

# The second incident — the proverbial one that broke the camel’s back — came soon after when Hegde ordered a Corps of Detectives inquiry into allegations that Gowda as a minister allotted over 50 government sites to members of his family on the basis of allegations made by a BJP leader from Gowda’s home district of Hassan.

# The third incident is believed to be Hegde’s decision to nominate S.R. Bommai as his successor over Gowda in 1988 when Hegde decided to step down as chief minister accepting moral responsibility for tapping the phones of senior leaders in the state.

Read the full article: Play it again, Karnataka

Also read: Puppets in the hands of ultra-greasy slimeballs

Puppets in the hands of ultra-greasy slimeballs

24 April 2008

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: The nomination of candidates for the assembly elections has followed a set pattern, suggesting that our political parties and politicians are like stuck records—they play the same song again and again hoping no one will notice.

So, we hear of tickets being “sold” for crores, as usual. So, we hear of real-estate, mining and other lobbies gaining a stranglehold, as usual. So, we hear of vandalism and defection on being denied tickets, as usual. So, we hear of caste and religion playing a big role, as usual.

So, etcetera, as usual.

We have heard all this before, we will keep hearing them again.

But if there is one set of nominations (so far) that shines a neat mirror on the stagnating, even regressive (male) mindsets we are dealing with, it comes to us courtesy of the nominees the Congress has deployed to take on H.D. Deve Gowda‘s sons, H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna.

The grand old party has picked two women to take on the sons of the son of the soil. In Ramanagaram, Ramakrishna Hegde‘s daughter Mamata Nichani (right) will take on the former chief minister. And in Holenarsipur, G. Puttaswamy Gowda‘s daughter-in-law Anupama (left) will take on his elder brother.

By itself, the nomination of women by Sonia Gandhi‘s party would have been welcome. While the 33 per cent reservation drama goes on and on, a 100 per cent reservation for women in the star-constituencies is a gift-horse the other 50 per cent of the electorate will not look in the mouth.

But….

But, this is less about women and more about the men behind them. As many Congress women have asked, especially about Mamata Nichani, are these two women—both related to powerful male politicians—the only women the Congress could find in a party that has been around for so long?

If that disease is easily diagnosed in a party where progenies are born not with a silver spoon in their mouths but with a Congress designation in their diapers, the obscurantist justification for putting up Mamata and Anupama takes your breath away, even if all is fair in love, war and elections.

If you decipher one newspaper report today, quoting sources close to that great statesman of our time D.K. Shiva Kumar, the decision to put up Mamata and Anupama is not a reflection of their political acumen or prowess but of their psychological impact on the “enemy”.

Apparently, the Congress bosses in the State consulted some astrologers who ruled that women were the Achilles‘ heel of the men of the Gowda kutumb.

Apparently, the Gowda family has been worshipping Lord Shiva, so the males have the blessings and protection of Rudra. But that power (of the Gowdas, presumably) wanes in front of women who are seen to be the epitome of Parvati. Hence, Mamata and Anupama.

Since Tejaswini Sriramesh had trounced Deve Gowda in the Kanakapura Lok Sabha constituency, the party decided that this was proof that women candidates like Mamata and Anupama would naturally put Kumaraswamy and Revanna on the back foot.

If Rahul Gandhi and his laptop-toting factotums can believe such retrograde, superstitious nonsense, from here to maata mantra of the B.S. Yediyurappa variety is just a click away.

(Or maybe Chennamma Deve Gowda, Anita Kumaraswamy and Bhavani Revanna know something the world doesn’t.)

Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy and Revanna have plenty to explain to the voters of the State—and to the country. The corruption in their (and their family’s) business dealings, the casteism and nepotism in their official appointments, their public and private conduct, their doublespeak, their backstabbing, etc.

Instead of countering all that, instead of seeking answers, all that the Congress can come up with are two goongi gudiyas puppeteered by ultra-slimeballs on some jyotishi‘s advice.

What a bloody shame.

Or is the Congress just preparing the ground for a tie-up with the Janata Dal (Secular) again by putting up dummies?

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The only place black magic works is in your mind

Cheaper jet fuel at the Deve Gowda petrol bunk?

How Big B has pushed India to a regressive new low

A snapshot of a poor, debt-ridden farming family

22 April 2008

Former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy filed his nomination papers from the Ramanagaram assembly constituency yesterday. And the son of the humble farmer attached an affidavit of his assets and liabilities. In all, the family has assets worth Rs 49.72 crore and liabilities of Rs 26.05 crore.

# H.D. Kumaraswamy owes Rs 1.33 crore to his wife, Anitha Kumaraswamy.

# Kumaraswamy owes Rs 3.26 lakh to his sister-in-law Bhavani ( H.D. Revanna‘s wife).

# Kumaraswamy owes his brother H.D. Ramesh Rs 1 crore

# Kumaraswamy owes a bank Rs 10 lakh.

# Kumaraswamy owes Kasturi media, run by his wife, Rs 2.59 lakh.

# Anita Kumaraswamy has taken loan of Rs 14.13 crore from various cooperative societies.

# Anita has borrowed Rs 6.53 crore as personal loan.

# Nikhil Gowda, son of Kumaraswamy, owes his mother Anita Rs 1 crore

# Nikhil Gowda owes Rs 80 lakh to a couple of cooperative societies

# Nikhil Gowda owes Rs 65 lakh to an individual named Yathish.

# Extent of property held by Kumaraswamy: Rs 15.36 crore

# Extent of property held by Anita: Rs 31.86 crore

# Extent of property held by Nikhil Gowda: Rs 2.67 crore.

# Kumaraswamy has 50 acres of agriculture land in Kethaganahalli, a 10,000 square feet house in J P Nagar, Bangalore and an industrial site which is 75X 280 in area.

# Kumaraswamy has 750 grams of gold and 12.5 kilograms of silver. His son has 850 grams of gold and 16 kilograms of silver. His wife Anita has 1.3 kilograms of gold.

# Kumaraswamy has bank deposits of Rs 13.77 crore while his wife and son have Rs 3.18 lakh and Rs 1.53 lakh respectively.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Wodeyar: No car, no car, yelli nodi no car

Mayawati: For the doyen of dalits, assets is all Maya

Kanimozhi: How many poems can fetch Rs 8.5 crore?

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win State elections?

10 April 2008

The announcement of the dates for the assembly elections in Karnataka at once removes the political uncertainty in the air and reopens the evergreen question: who will win this time round? Will it be a decisive verdict this time unlike in 2004, or is it going to be a fractured verdict once again, as predicted by H.D. Deve Gowda? Does the BJP have the strength and stamina to not only retain its tally of 79 but add significantly to it, to come to power on its own? Or, will the Congress, kicking and screaming, once again find itself having to share the spoils with the Janata Dal (Secular)?

What are the three key issues on which this election will be decided? Is inflation and price rise likely to play a role? Will voters remember the “worst-ever betrayal” of the BJP by the JDS? Will the fact that the assembly polls are being held separately from the Lok Sabha elections change situation? Will S.M. Krishna‘s return to active politics along with the good rains help the Congress? Will the farm loan writeoff in the Union budget, along with the Congress’ promises of rice at Rs 2 a kilogram and colour TVs play a role? Will Arun Jaitely be able to replay his Gujarat magic for B.S. Yediyurappa? Will the BSP play spoilsport?

What is the final tally likely to be?

Read what you said in November: CHURUMURI POLL: Who will win the next election?

More things change, more they remain the same

24 March 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: As Raja Trivikrama started carrying the Bethala on his back and started the long walk, the ghost felt pity for the king who had made endless trips only to start all over again.

***

“I feel you are the best king that ever ruled on earth. I will tell you a story and you have to answer my questions. If you know the answer and yet refuse to answer, I can assure you will be dead in a flash. So listen carefully.”

The Election Commission is ready to announce the date for the election in Karnataka. Hordes of fixers, carpetbaggers and sidekicks have landed in the State forgetting it was only few months back they had indulged in treachery, and skuddlegurry of the worst kind. They had let down and backstabbed the people of the State while mouthing shamelessly that they were there ‘serving’ them all the time.

“How are these parties lined up? Listen to me.”

To start with, the Congress. At the best of times a confused party, it has confounded further by naming four committees to help fight the elections. Small wonder, an ‘Yes’ in S.M. Krishna‘s mind, means “No” in Dharam Singh‘s, and a “Maybe” in Siddaramaiah‘s. It was much easier pulling the Nanjanagud chariot during the annual function than the Congress wheel which set off in as many directions as the spokes in the wheel. Repeated phone calls from Sonia Gandhi made sure the Congress chariot wouldn’t run aground yet.

Rahul Gandhi who was sent to discover himself and the country, aped H.D. Kumaraswamy’s village ‘home-stays’, had to flee the villages as he was hounded by hordes of prospective fathers-in-law and local bed bugs. This left Krishna wondering whether he made a mistake in leaving comforts of Bombay’s Raj Bhavan’s cultural shows and chilled beer at Mahalakshmi Races.

“I hope you are listening carefully’ asked the Bethala for which the answer was a nod.”

The Bethala continued:

The father-sons party has fared no better. Having usurped power twice mostly by unfair means they are ready for resort politics. As the first attack on their own party men, they fumigated their own party office all night, in the name of puja, to get the political rats, cockroaches and bandicoots out. No wonder they didn’t catch even one as all of them from top to bottom were already outside! Every god/goddess in the State was cajoled, warned to see that their party, er, their family came out as winners in the election, with a warning ‘Do it or else! The father-son trio drove away popular and loyal supporters and are now busy sowing for new crop of loyalists who would keep their tails wagging even when kicked.

The BJP had cried the loudest as the plate of power was yanked even before it could smell the goodies. Their hunger/ struggle for power is a saga much in the same lines as Mahabharatha or Iliad. Though dressed in simple white pant and half shirt, their leader B.S. Yediyurappa drove night after night criss-crossing towns, villages and rivers spilling his principles along the way for the imaginary gaddi. The shortest tenure as a chief minister, he may yet break his own record in times to come. His motto became ‘Bitten many times–but why be shy’? The dog-fight between aspirants for power within the parivar became the talk of talkathons. The senior warriors camouflaging as sages themselves were waging a cold war with one another, and hence were of little use.”

“I hope you are still with me although I, as a Bethala, am confused as to what is happening in Karnataka, and continued without waiting for an answer.”

And there are the independents who are pastmasters in skinning anything and make the sun shine so that they can have their hay.

“At the end of the long walk the Bethala aid, “I think we have covered a long distance and I am nearing the end of my story too. Now tell me who will win the election? And how will they rule? What will become of the people of Karnataka? You know what will happen to you if your answer is not correct.”

Thrivikrama smiled and answered: “I will answer your last question first. The great State is no more a kobbari-kallusakkkare Karnataka. It has become a kalaberake Karnataka. Whosoever wins the elections, the fate of Karnataka people will not change. The rulers—whosoever comes to power—will care very little for the people, busy as they will be, with looting prime lands, awarding prime contracts to their kith and kin, and making sure their family and friends prosper. They will have least concern for people. In fact they will gradually drive people to become Bethalas like you!

As Raja Thrivikrama finished his answers, an astonished Bethala got off his back and climbed back to the top of the tree.

CHURUMURI POLL: Can S.M. Krishna swing it?

5 March 2008

For more than two years now, news of Maharashtra governor S.M. Krishna‘s return to “active politics” in Karnataka has sustained many a journalistic byline. Hot tips of a coming Union cabinet portfolio if not an ambassadorial posting have been fed by Krishna’s media minders with boring predictability. And so it was on Maha Shivaratri 2008, when news filtered in from Bombay that the former Karnataka chief minister was headed back to his home-state.

This time, though, it was more than just a rumour with Krishna formally putting in his papers, even as the Election Commission looks increasingly likely to call for assembly elections in end-May. But the irony could not be more striking. Krishna was the man who led the Congress to a debacle in 2004, and four years later he is being projected as the saviour who could energise the moribund party and bring it back to power.

Questions: Will S.M. Krishna be able to resuscitate the Congress? Or will his late-entry only further weigh down the Grand Old Party which has at least half-a-dozen aspirants to the chief minister’s gaddi? Does the 76-year-old Krishna with his “hi-tech” image have the required charisma to swing voters towards the Congress again? Or having seen the rousing leadership of Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy and B.S. Yediyurappa, is Krishna just the man that voters are pining for? And, if the Congress wins, will Krishna become chief minister again?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: An old flame ignites the media’s insensitivity

Corruption OK. Massacres OK. Romance not OK?

29 January 2008

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Like a kaleidoscope, you can view the “revelation” of the half-century-old S.M. Krishna-B. Saroja Devi fling, and the spat at the book release in Mysore yesterday, any which way you like, and it will still make a lot of sense.

# Those who like media will say the messenger is being shot as usual. Those who dislike the media will see it (as Gagan K. already has) as a sign of the media going haywire in the mad quest for eyeballs and readers.

# Those who like Krishna will see it as an attempt to derail his reentry into Karnataka politics. Those who dislike him will see it as proof, full and final, that the man was up to no good even if it was 55 years ago.

# Those who like H. Vishwanath will see it as an attempt to prevent him from telling the truth. Those who dislike him will see it as a pre-poll stunt; just what the doctor ordered to boot him out of the Congress.

# Those who like the rich and powerful will see it as an attempt to tar brush them as being weak in the loins. Those dislike them will see it as a sign of how trophy wives and girlfriends have become an accepted norm.

# Those who like freedom of speech will see it as proof of how intolerant we are becoming as a nation. Those who dislike others using their freedom will say this is what happens if there is too much freedom.

In a way, each of those points of view, and possibly many more, are correct. But here’s a contrarian view worth pondering: is it just possible that the much reviled Janata Dal (Secular) is more tolerant of scrutiny and criticism than the much revered Indian National Congress?

***

To understand the irony, compare the reaction to the Krishna-Saroja Devi “romance” being made public with the reaction to the dalliance of H.D. Kumaraswamy with movie star Radhika being made public.

H. Vishwanath says he himself had the conversation with Krishna four years ago. Krishna’s wife Prema, and his brother S.M. Shankar, have both confirmed that there was talk of a marriage proposal for Krishna with Saroja Devi 55 years ago. Saroja Devi herself does not deny the affair. And Krishna has threatened to sue Mid-Day for the morphed photograph not the story.

In other words, there is more than a grain of truth to the story.

Yet, Congressmen owing allegiance to Krishna go on the offensive, without reading the book, without understanding the context, without verifying its veracity, and stall its release. Why is it so difficult to swallow a grain of truth for Krishna’s henchmen like D.K. Shiva Kumar and D. Made Gowda, when the chief players in the drama, Krishna included, are comfortable with it?

And this in a party that makes no effort to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru‘s dalliance with Edwina Mountbatten.

On the other hand, look at l’affaire Kumaraswamy-Radhika.

Kumaraswamy, at 48, is a full 28 years younger than Krishna. Unlike Krishna, HDK’s political future is ahead of him. For the better part of the last two years and more, there has been all manner of speculation in the Kannada weekly tabloids of his proximity to Radhika, the daughter of a Mangalore kabab-maker who acted in a few Kannada and Tamil films.

Did HDK buy her a house worth Rs 12 crore in Dollar Colony? Was he “relaxing” in the house, as chief minister, just before it was raided by income-tax men? Did he frequent her father’s house in Katriguppe? Did she get the Chamuni Hill temple manager transferred using her political connections? Did he make a midnight trip to a Mangalore hospital to call on her? Was she pregnant then? Has she given birth to a son in London?

These and other unsubstantiated tidbits have been merrily been thrown by a salivating media, including churumuri, even though Kumaraswamy has much more to lose by the negative publicity than Krishna. Yet, there has been no frenzied reaction from HDK or his JDS supporters. No blocking of roads, no throwing of flower pots, no manhandling.

What little protest has come has come via a series of defamation case filed by supporters of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda at the film “Mukhya Mantri I love you‘ being made by Hi! Bangalore editor Ravi Belagere. There was a dharna at the offices of the tabloid, but none of the vandalism and hooliganism of the Congress.

What does it mean?

That Krishna’s supporters are more careful at guarding his image and perception than HDK’s? That HDK has given up hope of being chief minister again and doesn’t care about voters seeing him as being bigamous? That, for all their rough and tough ways, the JDS men are more open, democratic and tolerant?

Or is this a “class” thing?

Here’s an even bigger irony: Congressmen aren’t overly concerned about their leaders being held guilty of taking part in massacres and killings and riots; they are not bothered about their leaders charged of corruption, of hobnobbing with the underworld, of taking cash from counterfeiters.

But somehow, a very normal, natural romance with a member of the opposite sex, one which both parties grudgingly admit, even if it was 55 years ago, gets them all hot under the collar. Why?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Is IT boom because of the State, or in spite of it?

24 January 2008

One of the more controversial points made the chieftains of the Information Technology industry is that the IT boom happened in spite of the government, not because of it. In other words, the “State” has little or no role to play or claim. The claim is obviously debatable because of the State’s role in securing and awarding land for IT companies, in setting up engineering colleges which produce their workers, in setting up the scientific and R&D labs which created the base, etc.

But evidence that the IT chiefs may be partially right comes from the growth in software exports from Karnataka in the year gone by. For the better part of the last two years, and more so last year, the JDS-BJP coalition government of H.D. Kumaraswamy was conspicuous by its perceived lack of interest in massaging IT egos, unlike in the S.M. Krishna years, when the State seemed very happy and eager to play The Great Provider.

Yet…

Yet, according to a story in Mint today, software and service exports from Karnataka only continued to grow. It will be 44 per cent of the country’s total IT and back-office services exports of around $40 billion. Software exports from the State, which were growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 38% over the past three years, are expected to grow by 46% in 2007-08.

“According to M.N. Vidyashankar, principal secretary to Karnataka government, department of IT, biotechnology, science and technology, the software exports from the state will touch Rs70,000 crore ($17.6 billion) during 2007-08 compared with Rs47,900 crore in 2006-07. Karnataka, which had a gross state domestic product of about Rs1.94 trillion in 2006-2007 dominates software and back-office exports from India. “We could’ve done more than Rs70,000 crore but forthe rupee’s appreciation,” said Vidyashankar.”

So, what’s the message? That the IT boom will go on, government or no government? Infrastructure or no infrastructure?

Read the full story: Karnataka to account for 44% of IT exports

CHURUMURI POLL: Should Gowda film be banned?

17 December 2007

The announcement by Ravi Belagere, the editor of the Kannada tabloid Hi! Bangalore, that he intended to make a film loosely based on the political events and undercurrents in Karnataka over the last couple of years has had the predictable results. First, the title of the film ran into trouble, as a result of which it had to be changed from “Mukhyamantri in Love, Radhika Ninna Sarasavidhene” to “Mukhyamantri I Love You, by Radha“. Then, after the movie’s mahurat, Janata Dal (Secular) workers stormed the newspaper’s offices and demanded the project be scrapped. And now, supporters of H.D. Deve Gowda have filed a defamation case for Rs 10 crore and sought a stay on the film’s release.

Belagere contends that the movie is not based on the former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. No CM’s father in Karnataka’s history has been called Tantre Gowda, and no CM’s wife has been an IAS officer, as has been depicted in the film. After an altercation with her, the CM gets close to an actress called “Radha“. The message of the film is that voters should not forget their responsibilities when their CM is being puppeteered from outside. In other words, “the characters are entirely fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and unintentional”.

Questions: Should a political film like Mukhyamantri I Love You be allowed to be made? Or should it be disallowed because it involves real-life characters in a developing political situation? Should serving politicians be open to lampooning without restraint? Or should it be disallowed because it feeds on gossip and hearsay, and could tilt the political scales? Could movies like these end up becoming political fodder for rival parties in a State going to the polls soon? On the other hand, does freedom of expression mean anything if writers and film-makers can’t say what they want to because it might offend somebody high and mighty?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,684 other followers