Posts Tagged ‘Jagadish Shettar’

Why Modi will address only one rally in K’taka*

25 April 2013

Photo Caption

Security personnel on election duty search a car at a check post on Hospet road in Bellary on Thursday, even as a new pre-poll survey suggests that the Congress, despite all its troubles, continues to maintain a healthy lead over the BJP in the assembly elections due in the “gateway to the south” next week.

The survey, conducted by the centre for study of developing societies (CSDS), for CNN-IBN and The Week, shows that the Congress could end up with at least 117 seats in a house of 224. Like other polls before this one, BJP comes second with 59 seats, JD(S) third at 44. KJP and others are also-rans.

Former chief minsiter H.D. Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) is the most preferred CM candidate, with 18 per cent people voting in favour of him. Ex-BJP strongman B.S. Yediyurappa is the second choice for CM (10%), followed by Congress leader Siddaramaiah (9%), S.M. Krishna (8%), and Jagadish Shettar (6%).

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THE POLLS SO FAR

CSDS-CNN-IBN, The Week (April): Congress 117-129, BJP 39-49, JD(S) 33-44

Suvarna News-Cfore (April): Congress 105-122 out of 224; BJP 55-70; JD(S) 30-45

Headlines Today-C-Voter (March): Congress 114-122, BJP 48-56, JD(S) 32-38, KJP 10-14

Tehelka-C-Voter (January): Congress 133, BJP 63, JD(S) 19, KJP 5

Suvarna News-CFore (Decamber 2012): Congress 113, BJP 58, JD(S) 31, KJP 14

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* Search engine optimisation techniques at work

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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2013 election coverage

When a wife-beater campaigns for the Congress

Rahul Gandhi fails five tests in Karnataka poll

They cry before the polls, so we can cry after

‘Diminishing returns from aggressive Hindutva’

Why is corruption not an issue in Karnataka?

POLL 2013: Can the Karnataka opinion polls go awry?

POLL 2013: Has A. Ramdas not supplied ‘henda‘?

It’s unofficial: our democracy has a bribe future

8 reasons Karnataka is wrong on Cauvery issue

8 October 2012

Like a bad penny, the Cauvery “dispute” returns to the national discourse every few years with both the “riparian” States involved the story, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, making the same noises—the former of everlasting injury and the latter of arrogance, with the Centre acting like a traffic policeman with his hands tied.

Every time the dispute flares up, and that is usually when there is scanty rainfall, the same revanchist forces of linguistic chauvinism and parochialism dust themselves and utter the same threatening cliches.

The world’s topmost water resources experts—the moviestars of Gandhinagar—descend on the streets. Bandhs are called, roads are blocked, resignations are offered, the ruling party flexes its muscle, all-party delegations meet the PM, and the media beats the familiar wardrum that sends shivers down the spines of those who can remember 1991-92.

Lost in the melee is sense and common sense. A dispute involving a couple of districts in the deep south holds the rest of the State and its relationship with a neighbour hostage. Karnataka’s fair name as a law-abiding State and the reputation of Kannadigas as a decent, civilised lot is muddied in the eyes of the nation and the courts.

Here, a lawyer conversant with the intricacies of the dispute lists eight reasons why Karnataka is once again barking up the wrong tree in circa 2012.

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1. When the agreement of 1924 was signed between the Maharaja of Mysore and Madras, the former diwan of Mysore,  Sir M. Visvesvaraya, supported it unequivocally. The said agreement gave 80% of all the water to Madras, which is equal to 360 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) at the Border.

2. The Cauvery Tribunal, reduced the quantity from 360 TMC as provided by the agreement of 1924 to 205 TMC in its interim Order, or 192 TMC in its final Order, which is a reduction of about 50%. During the years of drought, the shortfalls are to be shared equitably by riparian states. How is this distress to be shared?

3. According to Tamil Nadu, if the shortfall in the flows is 40%, its share ought to stand reduced by 40%. On applying this simple mathematical reduction formula of pro-rata, the shortfall in the flows given to Tamil Nadu comes to 40 TMC as on 19 September 2012.

4. However, the Prime  Minister rightly ignored the pro-rata formula when he passed the Order on 19 September 2012 directing Karnataka to ensure 9000 Cusecs till 15 October 2012 equivalent to only 20 TMC. This 20 TMC not only includes the arrears but also the monthly quota. Therefore, in real terms, the Prime Minister has only given 10 TMC towards arrears as against 40 TMC which ought to have been due to Tamil Nadu under the pro-rata formula.

5. Present storages is about 65 TMC. Even in the worst year of 2003-2004, 30 TMC flowed into the Karnataka reservoirs till December. So, in this year too, a similar quantum of water can be expected.

6. Cauvery is a political issue for the Vokkaligas. Historically, none from the Vokkaliga belt in Mandya and Mysore ever raised a word of opposition in 1924. Even after independence in 1947 or the re-organisation of States in 1956, none from Mandya or Mysore sought revision of the agreement of 1924. It is only after 1974, that the Opposition to the 1924. After 1974, the opposition in the Vokkaliga belt started but it is selective, targeting Non-Vokkaliga Government.

7. Mandya Vokkaligas opposed the Varuna Canal because it benefitted the Lingayats and Backward Classes in Mysore District. Mandya Vokkaligas do not bother when water is released from Kabini to fulfil the Order because Kabini caters to Lingayats, SC, ST and OBCs.

8. The ones who should really be complaining are Coorgis, since Coorg does not have drinking water though more than half the Cauvery water comes from there.

Photograph: Kannada movie stars (from left) Pooja Gandhi, Prameela Joshai, Shruti, Tara and Sudharani emerge out of the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Saturday after submitting a memorandum to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on Cauvery issue (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: If it’s summer, it’s time for a nice Cauvery row

Not everybody is a loser in the Cauvery dispute

How BJP plunged Karnataka into cesspool of caste

28 July 2012

“Welcome to the Vidhana Soudha.  If you are a Lingayat, press 1. If your are a Gowda , press 2. If you are a  Kuruba, press 3. If you are a Idiga, press 4. If  you are  a Dalit, press 5. If you are a Muslim, press 6. If you are a Christian, press 7. If you are none of these, disconnect and join the queue for Dharma Darshana of the Chief Minister and take your chance. Thanks for calling.”

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: At the moment, this is just an SMS doing the rounds but don’t be surprised if you were to actually hear this message in the days to come, as the process of political churning set in motion by the present BJP dispensation, is taken to its logical conclusion.

At the moment, the polarisation of castes, which is what this political churning amounts to, remains confined to the internal struggle for power within the ruling party. Its success or failure could spur other parties to follow suit, leaving Karnataka vying with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

What is however special to the political churning in Karnataka is that the process has been initiated by a national party like the BJP, while in other States it has generally been the handiwork of regional parties at the cost of the Congress or BJP.

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The author of the ongoing process in Karnataka is, of course, none other than the disgruntled former chief minister, B.S. Yediyurappa, who is desperate to regain political primacy in the State after he was forced to quit office in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta in the illegal mining and other scams.

But it has also got an indirect endorsement from the BJP’s bosses in New Delhi, who have been singularly helpless in curbing the political intransigence of the former CM, because of the imperative necessity of keeping the first saffron government south of Vindhyas in office, by hook or by crook.

It was Yediyurappa who started overtly playing the Lingayat card although the chief minister’s post in the State has been held by Lingayat politicians before him. It is a mystery what prompted Yediyurappa at the pinnacle of his popularity to play the caste card card, which has reduced him from a mass leader to the leader of a single caste.

For years, if not decades, Yediyurappa had painted himself as a leader of all classes and castes. He rose through dint of sheer hard work and sustained organisational strength.

Once he took over as the Chief Minister in 2008, he started portraying himself as the unquestioned political leader of the Lingayats, a prominent community which has a pan-Karnataka presence, with the northern half of the State being the sheet anchor of the support.

Yediyurappa started courting the religious heads among the community and was liberal in doling grants to the institutions managed by them.

If the move was aimed at providing himself with a shield to fight his political battle, it obviously failed.

For sure, the swamijis were at the forefront whenever his throne was in trouble, but it was hardly of avail since he could not prevent his ouster 11 months ago despite the campaigning by the lingayat swamijis. As a matter of fact, the swamijis got their  reputation tarnished by the  manner in which they winked at corruption.

Furthermore, their attempts to save a government steeped in corruption and a bunch of ministers neck deep in it merely because they happened to be Lingayats made them a laughing stock in public.

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The caste politics unleashed by Yediyurappa was on full display during the formation of the third BJP ministry headed by Jagadish Shettar. The Vokkaligas suddenly discovered that D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who was facing the heat, was a fellow Vokkaliga and rallied around him.

Though they could not save DVS’s chair, they gave enough hints that they are also a force to be reckoned with in Karnataka politics.

It was not without insignificant that the Deve Gowda-Kumaraswamy duo which was vocal in the criticism of the Yediyurappa government had suddenly grown soft during Sadananda Gowda’s 11-month regime. The transformation was attributed widely to the Vokkalinga connection.

The post of Chief Minister having gone to Shettar, a Lingayat, the two other powerful castes insisted and succeeded in creating specially two posts of the deputy chief ministers for the first time in Karnataka politics, and these went to K.S. Eswarappa (Kuruba) and R. Ashok (Vokkaliga).

It is expected that the post of the party president, which may be vacated by Eswarappa on his induction into the cabinet, is likely to go to “others” category.

To make the power sharing arrangement more authentic, both Eswarappa and Ashok were specifically sworn as the deputy CMs, even though the Constitution does not recognize such a political office. Normally aspirants are sworn in as a minister and later get designated as the deputy CM. Whether this will be a precedent for ministry-making exercises in future remains to be seen.

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The pattern of distribution of portfolios in the BJP-run government has been done according to the same formula, with the powerful caste denominations walking away with plum portfolios while the insignificant groups have been forced to accept minor and less-important ones.

Ironically, there was no Lingayat politician who could command the allegiance of Lingayats and emerge as their political voice. In fact, it was not any Lingayat politician but a Bramhin, the late Ramakrishna Hegde, who commanded the respect and trust of Lingayats as a whole in general and in northern half of the state in particular.

Hegde chose to deny himself what would have been a fresh lease of life for his political career when he resisted the pressure by his followers in the new political outfit the United Janata Dal to take over as the CM in place of J.H Patel, who was reigning then.

This he did because he did not want to hurt Lingayat sentiments.

The BJP’s continued drought of political support in the 1990s came as a byproduct of the electoral tie-up between the BJP and the JDU to fight the Congress. Hedge’s demise created a political vacuum and the BJP and Yediyurappa moved in to fit the  bill.

This is what enabled Yediyurappa to claim as a  lingayat leader.

But its continued Lingayat fixation coupled with Yediyurappa’s narcissistic tendencies  have contributed substantially to the precipitous fall of Yediyurappa from political grace.

When the BJP high command forced Yediyurappa to quit , his ego was badly hurt. He could not countenance his exit from power. Since then he has been ranting and raving for the restoration of his own political hegemony and has been bemoaning the loss of political primacy for Lingayats.

He has only a single-point agenda: he should have political power either by de jure or de facto manner.

If he cannot get power on his own directly, he must enjoy it through proxy. This was the rationale behind his move to get his own nominee Sadananda Gowda installed as his successor.

Gowda, a low profile functionary, happened to be one his confidants and a safe bet to be trusted unlike his other confidant Shettar, a fellow Lingayat, who had strayed away from his path. This, he achieved after virtually brow beating the high command for the selection of successor through voting.

But he got wary of Gowda soon, as the latter showed signs of moving out of his orbit.

Result: Yediyurappa himself launched a virulent campaign to bring down the man he had put in office sometime ago. He blackmailed the high command to have his way again. And this time Yediyurappa chose to bring back Shettar back into the fold to act as his proxy.

In his overt zeal to get back power, Yediyurappa has introduced in Karnataka politics, the canker of caste politics, which is expected to change the political scenario altogether in the days to come.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A surly backbencher takes a bird’s eye-view

25 July 2012

Former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa watches the proceedings in the monsoon session of the Karnataka legislative assembly on Wednesday as the current incumbent of the CM’s gaddi, his friend-turned-foe-turned friend Jagadish Shettar, occupies the front row at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A sacrificial pawn on Yediyurappa’s chess board

11 July 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Jagadish Shettar, who has been catapulted to the position of chief minister-designate in Karnataka, has been nothing but a political pawn in the game of political chess being played by the scam-tainted B.S. Yediyurappa.

He got a break in 1994 when, as a low-level party functionary, he was asked to take on Basavaraj Bommai, son of the former chief minister, S.R. Bommai, in the Hubli rural assembly constituency, a bastion of Janata Dal.

It was an impossible task by any standard for novice in politics like Shettar but he pulled it off thanks to the afterglow of the controversy over hoisting the national flag at Idgah Maidan, which had been carefully orchestrated by the BJP and had hogged national attention.

Shettar’s role in the controversy was of a subsidiary nature but he emerged a giantkiller thanks to the BJP strategy, and the hand of Yediyurappa was clearly seen in the gamble.

After that, what aided Shettar’s rise was the manipulative politics that Yediyurappa played to keep his rivals at bay inside the party. A one-term legislator like Shettar overnight became a leader of opposition in the Karnataka assembly, superseding many of the seniors in 1999.

The vacancy had been caused because of the shock defeat of Yediyurappa in his home constituency, Shikaripur. Yediyurappa was averse to the post going to anybody else, with senior leaders like B.B. Shivappa, former state party present from Hassan, being one of the main aspirants.

Yediyurappa preferred a rank junior like Shettar, who would be able to keep the seat warm when he would enter the assembly again, which he did in the next elections in 2004. Shettar quietly paved way for Yeddyurappa assuming the role of the Leader of the Opposition once again.

But in 2004 a new situation arose.

The post of the party president fell vacant with the incumbent Basavaraj Patil Sedam demitting his office after the expiry of the term. And Yediyurappa once again plumped for his trusted understudy and as a consequence Shettar moved up one more notch to become the state party president.

In the coalition government which BJP formed in 2006 with the Janata Dal (Secular), Shettar became a minister for the first time.

Shettar, who had seen the benefits of being faithful and friendly with Yediyurappa, soon experienced the latter’s ire. Thus, Shettar was deliberately denied a berth in the first full-fledged BJP government in 2008.

Shetttar sulked publicly and chose to stay away from the swearing-in ceremony when the national leadership of the BJP had descended on Bangalore to witness the historic occasion of the BJP opening its account in the South of the Vindhyas.

Thanks to the intervention of the national leadership, Yediyurappa, who had firmly set his foot against giving a ministerial berth to Shettar, was prevailed upon to make him the Assembly Speaker. Shettar was initially reluctant to accept but had to do so since there was no alternative.

What he did as Speaker is history.

He played a key role in “Operation Kamala” engineered by Yediyurappa with the connivance of the Reddy group of ministers to entice the opposition legislators into BJP with a view to help party gain majority on its own in the 224 member assembly.

He exercised the powers vested in him as Speaker in favour of Yediyurappa by quickly accepting the resignations submitted by the aspirants from the opposition much to the discomfiture of Congress and the JDS, in a manner reminiscent of what Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed did in the seventies in signing Indira Gandhi‘s proclamation of Emergency, despite the procedural flaws in the move.

On two occasions, Shettar very nearly became the Chief Minister but for Yediyurappa.

During the open rebellion by the Reddy group, Shettar emerged as their chosen candidate to replace Yediyurappa.

Later when Yediyurappa had to step down from office in the wake of his indictment by Lok Ayukta, Yediyurappa was unwilling to accept Shettar’s candidature as his successor and got him defeated by forcing the election at the legislature party meet.

Twice bitten, Shettar, who had in the meantime become Minister, was unwilling to take a risk this time. He made up with Yediyurappa as a consequence of which he was considered an apt replacement for D.V. Sadananda Gowda whom Yediyurappa was hell bent on pulling down and helped Shettar to make his dream come true.

A daunting task awaits Shettar as he steps into his new role. The party is a shambles; its image has taken a battering because .of the internecine quarrels and has a fresh election to face in less than ten months.

It remains to be seen how a grateful Shettar would oblige his friend turned foe turned friend, Yediyurappa, in his new avatar.  He has  two options left. He can hang on to the umbilical chord of Yediyurappa and kowtow to his every whim and fancy, especially in shielding him from the maze of the legal cases surrounding him.

If he wants to cut away the chord Shettar risks the fate that awaited his predecessor Sadananda Gowda, who as a friend-turned foe of Yediyurappa made it to the chair of the Chief Minister but lost it in 11 months.

File photograph: Jagadish Shettar with his wife Shilpa (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Why ‘Oye Lucky‘ could be Jagadish Shettar‘s film

How BJP allowed Yediyurappa to become Sonia

9 July 2012

T.J.S. GEORGE writes: Crippled by corruption, Karnataka is now brutalised by blackmail.

Corruption was the collective contribution of all parties. What the Congress carried on quietly, the JD(S) took up with gusto and BJP turned into a celebration. Blackmail is the exclusive contribution of the BJP.

Congressmen can’t think of it because they shudder before their High Command. In the BJP, the High Command shudders before B.S. Yediyurappa. Yediyurappa’s victory is BJP’s tragedy—and Karnataka’s misfortune.

Look at the misfortune first. Historically one of India’s best-governed states, Karnataka witnessed audacious misuse of power from the day BJP’s first chief minister took office. He and some of his colleagues focused on illegal land transactions as a major activity of government.

The principal financiers of the party, the Bellary lobby, took to plain plundering of the state’s good earth in violation of many laws. Wounded by its keepers, Karnataka bled.

When half a dozen ministers, including the chief minister, were jailed, prudence demanded a moment’s pause.

The BJP as a party and the state government as a constitutional entity should have re-looked at where they were going. They didn’t. Instead, they mounted a show of defiance, politicians looking for loopholes in the law and the Bellary Brotherhood making a suspected bid to bribe a judge. The judge landed in jail in a demonstration of the ugliness of today’s politics.

The neglect of governance could not have happened at a more inopportune moment. The state was in the grip of a serious drought, but water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai had no time to bother about it. Farmers were facing starvation, but agriculture minister Umesh Katti was busy with resignation games.

A grand show was held a couple of months ago to attract big-ticket investments to the state. Industrialists were upset that not a file moved since the show because industries minister Murugesh Nirani was in the plot to topple the chief minister.

All this to satisfy one man’s ambition.

So all-consuming was Yediyurappa’s passion for power that even after coming out of jail, he acted as though nothing untoward had happened.  He spent his not-negligible resources to keep a few dozen MLAs on his side.

This support base was a weapon with which he threatened the party bosses in Delhi, knowing well that the bosses would go to any length to see that the BJP did not lose Karnataka. Although his threats were effective, Yediyurappa knew that he was too tainted to become chief minister in one go.

He had a solution to that problem too. He found in foe-turned-friend Jagadish Shettar the fittest person to become the Manmohan Singh of Karnataka, and let him, Yediyurappa, be the Sonia Gandhi of Karnataka.

The puzzle is that the BJP’s leaders in Delhi do not see that approving Yediyurappa’s scheme is equal to approving corruption. They are said to condone Yediyurappa’s record, including the jailing, so as to ensure the allegiance of the Lingayat community.

First of all, will the BJP really gain by doing what no party has openly done before, namely, split Karnataka into Lingayats (17 per cent), Vokkaligas (15 per cent) and others (68 per cent)?

Second, how do they know that the silent majority of Lingayats will accept the position that they have no leader other than the second most tainted politician in Karnataka’s history (after Janardhana Reddy)? This is a community that gave India one of its noblest philosophical creeds. It has a proud public record and several eminent leaders.

On the other hand, a principled stand against the threat politics of Yediyurappa could have given the BJP a swing in its favour. Yediyurappa’s flaunted support base is sustained by the feeling among BJP legislators that his bullying will put him back in power. Call that bluff and the support will melt away.

The Congress and the JD (S) are in a mess, which gives the BJP a reasonable chance to beat them at the next election. But the rivals have a propaganda plank that is powerful: that the BJP promotes corruption officially. The BJP could have demolish that plank. All it needed was some guts.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Has Yediyurappa melted the Loh in Loh Purush?

9 July 2012

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: The BJP high command is neither high nor has any command left.  This stark truth emerges succinctly from the manner in which the BJP high command has been ineptly handling dissidence in the Karnataka BJP which is threatening the existence of the first saffron ministry south of Vindhyas.

At a time party should have pulled up its socks to take on the scam-tainted Congress in the forthcoming general elections, the BJP has been presenting the inedible face of a party which is unable to manage its own internal crises and has allowed the canker of dissidence to develop into a Frankenstein‘s monster as it were.

The younger generation of party leadership which was put in place with great flourish as a process of transition from the Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lalchand Kishinchand Advani era, has proved to the hilt that the party can longer claim to be a party with difference and that it consists of men with feet of clay, who have more faith in the political opportunism than in principled, value-based tactics.

Even the patriarch Advani finds himself unable to stem the developments and has allowed himself to be a passive spectator. How else can one explain the strange phenomenon of the party compromising on party discipline and as a matter of fact appearing to pamper its lack of it, off and on?

The party leadership hardly moved when the group of three ministers comprising of the Reddy trio openly raised a banner of revolt demanding the change of leadership of the Yediyurappa government and resorted to the politics of herding the supporting legislators to the resorts.

The party chose to turn a blind eye to the indiscretion and instead worked overtime to bring about a compromise.

All those who had challenged the leadership were allowed to get away, even without a warning.  The complaints about the style of working of the then chief minster were pushed under the carpet, by a leadership which refused to take cognizance of the ground realities in Karnataka.

The repeated tantrums thrown up by Yediyurappa has been sum product of the laissez faire attitude of the national party in the matter of enforcing the party discipline.

Ever since he was asked to step down in the light of indictment by the Lokayukta report on the illegal mining and plethora of land denotification cases which resulted in his arrest, Yediyurappa has become a bugbear to the party’s leadership.

When he was asked to quit in the light of the scam report, Yeddyurappa demurred deliberately.

When he had to ultimately yield, he did  so after making it amply clear that it was his, rather than the party’s, writ which ran as for as Karnataka affairs was concerned.  He forced an election on the choice of his successor and defeated the nominee of the high command.

Sadananda Gowda was his nominee for the post and Gowda defeated Jagadish Shettar, who had the backing of the high command.

The high command had no problem with the new chief minister and as a matter of fact it was appreciative of the work being done by him in providing a  clean government and taking care to keep the family members at a distance unlike what had happened during his predecessor’s days.

However, Gowda’s effort to run a government independent of his mentor angered Yediyurappa like anything and he started an open campaign seeking his removal. But now the tables have turned and Yediyurappa has successfully sought the removal of the very man he had installed in office and wanted him to be replaced by Jagadish Shettar who in the meantime had been weaned into his camp.

Initially, the high command was not willing to concede and backed the beleaguered Sadananda Gowda to the hilt.  But it dropped him like a hot potato when Yediyurappa held out the threat of precipitating the crisis by making group of nine ministers belonging to his camp to resign en masse.

The high command became panicky and had to give in to the pressures tactics of Yediyurappa.

The crop of the second-generation leadership which is at the helms of affairs was the first to cave in to the dictates of Yediyurappa and lobbed the ball in the court of the patriarch Advani before making the final announcement.

Advani  had always stood for a firm stand against those who have been making open mockery of the party discipline.

At one stage he was reportedly of the view that the party should go for a fresh mandate in Karnataka instead succumbing to the pressures of the Yediyurappa group.  But he had no option but to fall in line in the light of the combined pressure of the younger group that it is important to save the party juncture at this stage instead of taking a risk of fresh poll.

And Advani had to yield and going by the newspaper reports “with tears in his eyes”.

Even the “iron” in the “iron man” (Loh Purush) has started melting. And that is the tragedy of the BJP under the dispensation of younger generation, which is more interested in the power game than anything else.

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

Also read: ‘BJP has fallen prey to politician-entrepreneurs’

Why does the BJP persist with Operation Kamala?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Operation Kamala OK?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Getaway of the louts in the Gateway to the South

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

Five questions for L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley

24 February 2012

His mouth already full, metaphorically speaking, former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa lunges for a plate of chakkuli and kodebale from the next table, at a meeting of leaders and legislators at his residence in Bangalore on Thursday.

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Who exactly is ruling Karnataka right now?

Exhibit A: The Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) guarantees  employment in rural areas. Of the Rs 2,153 crore approved in the budget, districts in Karnataka have spent only Rs 1,265 crore—58% of the allocated funds—despite severe drought.

Exhibit B: Studies have shown 37% of children are underweight, about 28% are undernourished, and 5.5% of children die of hunger before they reach five years. Prevalence of malnutrition in Karnataka in Raichur and other districts has reached epic proportions.

Exhibit C: The process of naming a Lok Ayukta to replace Justice Santosh Hegde is still going on months after he remitted office, even  as minister after minister or official or other is caught every now and then with mind-boggling income totally unrelated to his / her income.

Exhibit D: The ‘blue babies’, the 3 MLAs  who were watching porn material while the legislative assembly session was on have already shamed the party, on top of all those caught in similar misdemeanours.

These are only few examples.

Despite all these major problems confronting the State and the ruling party, the only issue the BJP MLAs and BJP ministers seem to be interested in is: when will D.V. Sadananda Gowda pack up and go leaving the seat for B.S. Yediyurappa?

For this, dinner meetings spending lakhs of rupees are held,  the ex-CM dashes in and out of either Benares or Vaishnodevi, burning tax-payers’ money as if he is just taking a stroll from his bed-room to drawing room. The Veerashaiva swamijis, who are ready to jump into this any time, have become willing partners in this plot.

Confabulations are held in resort after resort, plans are afoot to unseat the CM by hook or crook.

Here are five key questions:

1) Why are sanctimonious BJP and RSS leaders tolerating such natak from its political actors in Karnataka, week after week, month after month?

2) Why is BJP president Nitin Gadkari putting up with such an audacious and brazen lust for power, giving room for suspicion?

3) Now there seems to be a plan to bring in Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat, to replace D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a vokkaliga, becasue Yediyurappa cannot become CM immediately. How can the BJP make such casteist moves so openly?

4) Why is the central BJP allowing the authority of present chief minister to be so openly eroded?After all they nominated him for the post after all sorts of discussions and he is the elected leader of the legislature party.

5) Why are leaders like the former future prime minister of India L.K. Advani and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley mum on the subject? Can they unseat a CM and replace him with another against whom cases are still pending, no matter how much he hankers for the post?

BJP will again become a laughing stock if they bring back Yediyurappa due to coercion, religious and caste politics.  The cases against him are still on and he has not been declared innocent. He is only out on bail.

Meanwhile, let the administration be damned in the State.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Will BJP win Karnataka again?

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

Raichur, malnutrition deaths and BJP ‘governance’

Yella OK, guru. Nanna makkalu is not learning

CHURUMURI POLL: Who will be Karnataka CM?

28 July 2011

The BJP central leadership’s stern instruction to B.S. Yediyurappa to resign immediately at least removes one possibility from the equation: that the party bosses might sit on the fence endlessly while a rebellion built up in the State leading to more embarrassment for the party ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament.

But it also opens up the other part of the equation: who after Yediyurappa?

Having dislodged a Lingayat chief minister, should the replacement be a Lingayat like a Jagadish Shettar, to assuage hurt feelings? Is it time for a Vokkaliga, like D.V. Sadananda Gowda or Shobha Karandlaje, to blunt the JDS edge? Or, since Brahmins were supposed to have backed the BJP in the elections, should the high command look at the likes of perennial frontrunner Ananth Kumar, or V.S. Acharya or even Suresh Kumar?

Who do you think stands the best chance of becoming the second BJP chief minister in the South?

Why Jagadish Shettar’s film could be ‘Oye Lucky’

17 November 2009

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Luck, more than anything, has played a major role in the ascendancy of Jagadish Shettar, who has resigned from the post of speaker of the Karnataka legislative assembly to impose himself on an unwilling Yediyurappa as a member of his cabinet.

In a span of just 15 years, Shettar, an innocuous low-level party functionary, has transformed himself into a contender for the top post of the chief minister, challenging his one time mentor-cum-benefactor

Shettar cut his political teeth in 1994, when he won a surprising victory from Hubli rural, a constituency which had been out of bounds for the BJP/ BJS. The constituency, which had been pocketborough of the Congress since the beginning, leaned towards the Janata Dal for three consecutive terms from 1978, returning the late S.R. Bommai, who rose to become CM succeeding the late Ramakrishna Hegde in 1988.

But with the shock defeat of Bommai in 1989, the Congress regained the seat in 1989 and the 1994 election was poised to be a tussle between the two traditional rivals. But the Idgah Maidan controversy brought about a change in the political preferences of the constituency, thrusting Jagadish Shettar into the limelight.

The Idgah maidan was a piece of land located in the heart of Hubli where Muslims offered prayers twice a year. A legal dispute over the ownership of the land resulted in the Anjuman Islam losing the case, with the court rejecting its claim that it had a lease.

The court ruled that what Anjuman had a license and not a lease.

The BJP spearheaded an agitation for hoisting the national flag on national festivals in the Idgah maidan. This sparked off communal tension. The actions of the Congress government in Karnataka was also a contributory factor for the escalation of  tension. which  resulted in the police opening fire in which seven persons were killed, months prior to the election.

So, with the Idgah row hanging in the air, the BJP went on to capture Hubli. The Janata Dal candidate, Basavaraj Bommai, the son for the former chief minister, failed to avenge the defeat of his father in the previous election.

Jagadish Shettar, who was picked by the BJP as its candidate, was a political non-entity, being merely the head of the Hubli rural taluk unit of the party.

He got lucky.

Since then Shettar has not looked back.

If Idgah did the trick in 1994, it was the shock defeat of Yediyurappa in his home-constituency Shikaripur in 1999 which proved lucky for Shettar to move up the political ladder.

Yediyurappa had a pathological aversion for the party’s senior most legislator B.B. Shivappa from Hassan in succeeding him as the leader of the opposition in the assembly. The mantle as a consequence fell on the shoulders of one of the junior most legislators of the party, Shettar, who was on to his second stint as MLA.

The reason proffered then was that as a junior he would be more amenable to Yediyurappa than anybody else. Yediyurappa was proved right.

In the 2004 election, Shettar performed a hat trick of retaining the seat.  With the return  of Yediyurappa to the assembly, it was no longer possible for him to continue in the post. But in another quirk of political he found himself landing up as the new party president, in place of Basavaraj Patil Sedam, who was caught in the vortex of the struggle between Yediyurappa and Ananth Kumar.

Shettar’s name again came in handy.

The Yediyurappa group outsmarted others in wangling the post for Shettar. Result: Shettar, who had hardly any organisational experience,  found himself as the party president of the Karnataka unit of the BJP.

The win in 2008 election was a cakewalk victory for Shettar, with the Congress and JDS fielding weak candidates against him.  And the internal fight within the Congress also contributed to his fourth success. His place in the cabinet was assured by his position and seniority in the  JDS-BJP coalition, which fell apart after 20 months in office.

He was also a member of the short-lived BJP government, before President’s rule was imposed paving for election in 2008.

In all the posts he has held since his first election—as leader of the opposition in the second term, as party president in the third and as minister in the fourth term—the performanance of Shettar was not brilliant but ordinary, run of the mill variety. He hardly ever managed to emerge out of the shadow of his senior and the mentor Yediyurappa.

Though he had registered his fourth win from Hubli, Shettar was shocked to find that Yediyurappa had not preferred him to be a member of the BJP government formed for the first time. For the first time, the message went out loud and clear that the relations between the mentor and protégé had become strained and Yediyurappa felt that the latter was growing beyond his shoes and deserved to be cut to his size.

What however hurt Shettar was not his exclusion but the subtle attempts made by Yediyurappa to promote a junior Lingayat legislator and new entrant to the party like Basavaraj Bommai, whom Shettar had defeated in 1994.

Bommai who was in JDU and  represented the local authorities constituency in the legislative council joined the BJP and  successfully contested the assembly election  from Shiggaon. The only small mercy  shown by Yediyurappa was that Bommai was not made as the minister in charge of Dharwad district.

Miffed, Shettar stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony as a mark of protest. Thanks to the intervention of the party high command, he scaled one more notch of this political career to become the Speaker of the assembly. For a while he was reluctant to accept the speaker’s post. He demurred only when the High Command made it clear that it was a “take it or leave it” situation.

Though he occupied a post, which was equal in  stature if not more than that of the chief minister, Shettar made it clear that he was not interested in continuing in the office and that his heart was set on being a minister.

Despite his differences with the CM, speaker Shettar proved to be a convenient tool in the “Operation Kamala” mounted by the BJP in cahoots with the Reddy Brothers to muster a majority. Opposition legislators were enticed by the brothers to resign their seats, and submit their letters to Shettar.

But the banner of revolt raised by the Reddy group against Yediyurappa, pitchforked Shettar into prominence.  Shettar was a mere camouflage  to cover their real designs of occupying the gaddi one day or the other. But it could not stake its claim right away, since it was not only politically inopportune.

Even if the Reddys had succeeded in dislodging Yediyurappa and put Shettar in his place, the latter would have been  nothing but a puppet manipulated by the wily Reddys, since Shettar neither has the support nor the clout to withstand the pressure of the Reddy group.

When a strong personality like Yediyurappa could be brought down, where  do the lesser mortals stand against the manipulations and machinations of the Reddys?

So, dame luck  has once again dealt a card favourable to Shettar, projecting him as the chief minister in waiting, notwithstanding the fact that whether he has or does not have the capacity, grit and gumption to handle the onerous responsibility in a trying time like this.

It is another matter, whether Shettar  should have involved himself actively in politicking, when the office of speaker held by him demanded that he remained apolitical. But Shettar today stands only one step away from the coveted post of the chief minister.

Will the streak of luck run further to make him realise his dream  of occupying the gaddi of the chief minister remains to be seen.

Photograph: Jagadish Shettar, who joined the state cabinet, takes the blessings of his parents, Shivappa Shettar and Basavannemma, during the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Tuesday. (Karnataka Photo News)

Did Gandhi sow the seeds of our social disorder?

12 June 2008

MAHESH JAYACHANDRA writes from St. Cloud, Minnesota: When fertilizers are not available in adequate quantity on time, buses are burnt in Haveri. When Jagadish Shettar does not get a cabinet post, buses are burnt in Hubli. When the Cauvery Tribunal orders release of water, buses are burnt in Bangalore.

When Loksatta editor Kumar Ketkar questions the utility of a Shivaji statue, his house is nearly burnt down in Bombay. When biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava, queries the efficacy of homoeopathy, an angry mob smashes his gate in Hyderabad.

Smash, slash, break, burn.

Suffice to say that when Indians are incensed about any issue, they take to the streets in violent, pyromaniacal mobs. The issue may be important or trivial, but we seem to be driving home our point with far greater ferocity and frequency than in the past.

Why?

Has the time come to point a finger at Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?

In a new book, “Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age“, historian Arthur Herman writes:

…[Gandhi's]…decade-and-a-half of defiance of the law through civil disobedience had bred an atmosphere of contempt for social order, a celebration of recklessness and militance….

[B]y encouraging others . . . Gandhi helped to spread the dangerous fiction that all street action was soul force and vice-versa…

The near-national contempt for social order, for public and private property, may be the sign of an alive democracy to some, a functioning anarchy to some others.

Or a social disorder in deep dystrophy.

Regardless, the easy acceptance of “street action” as a legitimate form of protest to draw attention and action, makes me wonder if the time has come to re-evaluate MKG’s enduring legacy.

Is the apostle of ahimsa responsible in a roundabout sort of way for the unceasing trail of violence and vandalism we see around us? Have we twisted his philosophy of protest beyond redemption in the name of democracy? Are we just incapable of making ourselves be heard in any other way?

What say?

Also read: Thodo, phodo, ham sab tumhaare saath hain

BJP has won the war; it needs to win its battles

5 June 2008

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: Call it lack of skill and experience in political management, or the manifestation of an authoritarian streak for which B.S. Yediyurappa is known, or just a simple case of lack of communication. But the twin hiccups that marked the beginning of the BJP rule in Karnataka were eminently avoidable.

Thankfully, the controversies over the composition of the ministry and the Governor’s address to the joint session of the legislature have blown over as quickly as they surfaced, with Jagadish Shettar agreeing to be the Assembly speaker and Rameshwar Thakur agreeing to read out his address before the majority test, but there can be little doubt that the two episodes have painted BJP in not very glowing light.

What is particularly galling is that the two issues came to the fore on the day the BJP’s national leadership had congregated in Bangalore to witness history being made below the fold.

Shettar, despite his senior status, stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony on being denied the berth in the ministry being sworn in and gave public expression to his sense of disappointment.

Worse, while BJP cadres all over the state were celebrating the occasion with gusto, Shettar’s followers in hometown Hubli were staging a dharna protesting his non-inclusion. They torched buses in the process, which prompted Congress chief Mallikarjuna Kharge to demand that the loss to public property be recovered from Shettar.

It would be interesting to see what Shettar’s stand would be if Kharge were to raise the issue in the assembly when it meets.

The omission of Shettar was not the only sore spot in the Yediyurappa ministry. It was imbalanced to the core and the approach of new Chief Minister appeared totally flawed.

As many as eleven districts went without representation. One would understand BJP not being able to give representation to the five districts of Chamarajanagar, Chikkaballapur, Hassan, Mandya and Ramanagara, where the party drew a blank in the elections.

But six other district where the BJP had done well, like Dharwad (where BJP had won six of the seven seats), and Gadag (where BJP had all the four seats), and not so well in other four districts including Mysore, were deprived of their due in the arrangement for sharing power, for which no reasons were given.

What led to Yediyurappa dropping Shettar, who was once considered as his protégé is still a mystery.

Shettar owes his rise from being political lightweight to the leader of the opposition in the second term, state party president in the fourth time, and as minister in the coalition government entirely to Yediyurappa.

Yediyurappa’s shocking and unexpected defeat in 1999 catapulted Shettar to the position the latter had held mainly because Yediyurappa was determined that his traducers in the party should have no chance.

Again the same reason came in way of Shettar being anointed as the state president when the tenure of incumbent president Basavaraj Patil Sedam came to an end. He was the automatic choice for a berth in the coalition government which was formed by the BJP with JDS on the fall of the Congress led JDS supported coalition.

Whether his exclusion was due to the fact that Shettar had been identified with the Ananth Kumar, a bete noire of Yeddyurappa, or due to vigorous campaign Shettar and others had launched during the days of the coalition against a cabinet berth being given to Shobha Karandlaje, a confidante of Yediyurappa is not clear.

But Yediyurappa’s rationale in offering the post of the Speaker as a sop to Shettar was not very convincing either.

On the other hand Shettar took the denial of cabinet post seriously and personally and considered it as a deliberate affront. His supporters went to the extent of accusing Ananth Kumar, his new mentor in the BJP’s faction ridden politics, of sacrificing him for the sake of his political designs.

Shettar, who is associated with the realtors lobby, did not consider the Speaker’s post as quite attractive and this would come in the way of his doing the “people’s work”. “Speaker’s post or nothing else” was his motto, as his supporters went on the rampage and sought to portray it as injustice done to Northern Karnataka.

What is intriguing in the whole matter is the communication gap between Shettar and Yediyurappa before and after the ministry making exercise was completed.

Yediyurappa could have easily explained his rationale to Shettar in person, assuaged his hurt feelings and sought cooperation. On the other hand, Yediyurappa chose to let the national leadership resolve the issue rather than talking to Shettar himself.

Shettar, who was reluctant to change his mind under any circumstances, could not resist responding the summons from the party bosses. He went to New Delhi, where he was given a piece of the mind by the leadership and was left with no alternative but to fall in line. The national leadership made it clear to Shettar that it had taken his tantrums seriously, and delivered a “speaker or mere legislator” ultimatum. Shettar meekly acquiesced.

Even as the ripples caused by the Shettar episode continued to linger in the BJP, the row over the governor’s address broke out. It is customary for the governor after every election or at the beginning of the year to spell out the policies of the government, but Thakur insisted on the government proving its majority before delivering the address.

BJP circles saw red in the stance of the Governor, since he had not expressed any doubts of the numbers the BJP ministry commanded, when he sworn in the cabinet, which included five independents, who had pledged their support.

Why was the Governor suddenly making this an issue, and was the Congress behind the move to needle the government needlessly?

Legal circles hold different points of view on the propriety or otherwise of the Governor’s action. Quibbling apart, what the BJP’s initial confrontationist approach with the Governor underlined was the lack of tactical political wisdom in getting over the ticklish situation.

Since the BJP had the necessary numbers on its side, why did it flinch from proving the majority as desired by the Governor? After the Speaker’s election, it could have done had a floor test and proved the point convincingly.

The Governor subsequently changed his stand after a team led by the Chief Minister called on him, bringing a happy end to what would have emerged as a thorny problem. But the two episodes go some way in showing that the BJP would do with a dose of tactical wisdom.


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