Posts Tagged ‘Shobha Karandlaje’

Picture No. 34 in the world’s best BSY portfolio

12 November 2013

Photo Caption

Former Karnataka chief minister and the president of the Karnataka Janata Party, B.S. Yediyurappa, with KJP leader Shobha Karandlaje  during the fledgling party’s indefinite strike at Anand Rao circle in Bangalore, on Tuesday, demanding the rollout of the ‘Shaadi bhagya’ scheme for all communities.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The world’s best Yediyurappa photo portfolio

India’s most photogenic former CM strikes again

CHURUMURI POLL: Yediyurappa as CM again?

20 December 2011

There is nothing like the aphrodisiac called power; it corrects all electile dysfunctions in a democracy. Barely five months ago, B.S. Yediyurappa was the black sheep of the BJP, kicking and screaming as he was led away to slaughter in full public view by his party which wanted to appear to the world that it was doing the right and correct thing in removing him from office following his indictment by the Lok Ayukta in the illegal mining scam.

“I will be back in six months,” were Yediyurappa’s ominous last words even as his protege D.V. Sadananada Gowda was taking charge as his successor. A stint in the central jail in Bangalore, after being named in a denotification scam, would have chastened normal human beings, but his “triumphant release” and the stinging defeat of the BJP in the Bellary by-elections have only embolded supporters to think that the ‘Return of the Yedi’ is round the corner.

First, all but three BJP members of Parliament reportedly told the party high command last week that they wanted him back as CM. And now, Yediyurappa himself has been quoted as saying “there is a feeling” in the BJP that he should occupy the hot seat again. He is even conducting special yagnas for his return, with Shobha Karandlaje in tow. With Gowda facing a crucial election saying that he will vacate if asked to, the scene is set, especially with rumours that Yediyurappa might split the party and hitch forces with Sharad Pawar‘s NCP if denied the chair.

Should Yediyurappa return? Will he? Has he paid for his transgressions with a mere jail stint? Will allowing him to return help or the harm the BJP’s image? And what happens to Sadananda Gowda?

Raichur malnutrition deaths & BJP ‘governance’

27 October 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: More than 2,600 children under 6 years of age—that’s two-thousand-six-hundred children under six years of age—are reported to have died of malnutrition in Raichur district over the past two years as per data provided by the women and child welfare department.

The irony couldn’t have been more stark or striking: hot and arid Raichur is, after all, home for India’s only active goldmine, Hutti, in Lingasugar taluk. Another 4,500 children are reported to be on their deathbed due to malnutrition in Deoburg and Manvi taluks  of Raichur.

“The entire system has collapsed. It has now become a sociopolitical and economic issue. Karnataka claims to be a progressive state but look at what is happening in these villages,” Dr Akhila Vasan, a child healthcare expert and worker, has been quoted as saying.

Yet, the response of the State government, whose leading figures utter the words “governance” and “development agenda” like a stuck record, is stunning to be believed.

B.S. Yediyurappa, who took a chopper to every known and unknown temple and mutt to save himself from the long arm of the law, and his BJP colleagues who are cooling their heels in Parappana Agrahara, never found time to visit these villages and take effective steps.

The minister for child and women’s welfare C.C. Patil, who was directed by new chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to visit the district by September 26, has still not found the time, and it is already October 27.

The minister for medical education, S.A. Ramadas, who was  busy splurging taxpayers’ money and hogging all the limelight during Dasara, hasn’t heard of this or hasn’t been bothered enough to respond. Leave alone visiting the affected villages, he hasn’t stepped out of Mysore, fearing he might be upstaged by his friend-turned-foe–cum-colleague Shobha Karandlaje.

And, needles to say, the State’s health minister has been missing in action. So, who was the State’s health minister under Yediyurappa the last two years? B. Sriramulu.

Aha, that explains everything.

Graphics: courtesy Mail Today and Frontline

External reading: Hard to follow

A century is a long time in State’s power politics

12 October 2011

Asia’s first hydro-electric power station was set up in Karnataka. But that was a century and ten years ago, and that was under the gaze of visionaries like Sir M. Visvesvaraya.

In circa 2011, when politicians and administrators can only see cuts, kickbacks and commissions in every project they undertake (or don’t), school children study by candlelight, in Hubli on Tuesday, as the scheduled loadshedding in the State entered the second day.

Meanwhile, the State power minister Shobha Karandlaje has taken the BJP’s default position on every issue: blaming her Congress predecessors, blaming the Centre, blaming the Telangana crisis and indeed blaming everybody but herself for the power crisis.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

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'Suvarna News' anchor Ranganath Bharadwaj (right) hosts a show on the power crisis in Karnataka with candle lights in the studios as props

Also read: Nothing romantic about a candlelight newscast

How much longer will Yediyurappa stay in BJP?

1 August 2011

The BJP high command has been saved by the bell of rahukala, with B.S. Yediyurappa relenting and walking to the Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation following his indictment by the Lok Ayukta in the illegal mining scam. For a party which wanted Yediyurappa to go before Parliament began its monsoon session, this is not a small gain.

However, events from the moment Yediyurappa was asked to step down have caused severe ruptures in the “party with a difference”, showing it to be merely a party with differences. On the one hand, there was the unseemly spectacle of the Yediyurappa camp defying the BJP bosses and playing hardball for three if not four days.

And, on the other hand, there is the very large, even if local, damage that Yediyurappa’s demands and conditions for vacating office has caused. There are now clearly two, if not three, camps within the party and it is clear that whoever the BJP legislature party elects on Wednesday, there is further trouble in store, later if not sooner.

Coming as all this does with the countdown to the 2013 assembly elections, the questions are obvious: has the BJP emerged stronger or weaker after this blood-letting? Have the troubles in the BJP ended with Yediyurappa’s resignation, or have they only just begun?

And, above all, after this show of strength of “70 MLAs”, will the “loyal and disciplined soldier of the sangh” fight the next election under the BJP symbol? Or will he bide his time, and form his own party (“Karnataka Janata Party”, as is rumoured) as the elections draw near? And will he taste success?

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?

One question I’m dying to ask B.S. Yediyurappa

27 July 2011

After a minor leak and much drama baazi, the Lok Ayukta report on illegal mining in Karnataka is officially out, and the facts provide the full and final proof of the manner in which China’s vociferous appetite for steel changed the political paradigm in the State, earning it the sobriquet of “India’s Most Corrupt State“.

The loss to the exchequer between 2006 and 2010 is estimated at over Rs 16,000 crore; the loss between March 2009 and April 2010 itself at Rs 1,827 crore. The chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has been named, as indeed as his predecessor H.D. Kumaraswamy despite their “tearful” performance every now and then.

More to the point, the report indicates that the CM of god’s own party who spouts “development” like a stuck record, was a direct beneficiary, his family having been paid by cheque by the mining companies. Yet, while the BJP attacks the Congress in Delhi on corruption, its “gateway to the south” seems to be rotting to the point of decay.

What is the one question you are dying to ask Yediyurappa and the BJP?

Like, could Yediyurappa’s defiance cost the BJP on the national stage, just like Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s? Like, could Shobha Karandlaje as a potential successor to Yediyurappa mean it’s “all in the family”? Like, is it true that the silence of key members of the BJP and RSS, in Delhi and Bangalore, was purchased for a price?

Or, were all those visits to temples and mutts eventually of no use? Or was it a licence?

File photographKarnataka Photo News

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Yedi and Reddy

One question I’m dying to ask H.R. Bharadwaj

Has the BJP lost all sense of shame in Karnataka?

12 times lucky, will 13 be lucky for Yediyurappa?

23 May 2011

With the Congress-led UPA government once again dismissing governor H.R. Bharadwaj‘s recommendation to dismiss the BJP government in Karnataka, a quick recap of the amazing life and dangerous times of Karnataka’s most famous trepeze artiste, chief minister Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa (2008-2011):

1) Survives rebellion by the Reddy brothers and their bosom buddy, Sriramulu

2) Survives concerted attacks by Congress, JDS

3) Survives another rebellion by Reddy brothers and their godmother, Sushma Swaraj

4) Survives the various sex and financial scandals involving his ministers and MLAs

5) Survives first attack by governor H.R. Bharadwaj

6) Survives threat of removal by his party high command, acting in concert with the RSS

7) Survives the Lok Ayukta, high court and Supreme Court

8) Survives dozens of media exposes of his sons’ assets and land dealings, and Shobha Karandlaje‘s

9) Survives repeated pinpricks of party colleagues, Ananth Kumar and K.S. Eswarappa

10) Survives rebellion by section of party MLAs on the floor of House

11) Survives another attack by governor Bharadwaj

12) Survives 21 May 2011, the day the world was supposed to have come to an end

Cartoon: courtesy Prakash Shetty

Every good picture is worth a thousand volts

28 February 2011

Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and energy minister Shobha Karandlaje go their separate ways after the launch of Belaku Yojane—a programme to encourage the use of compact flourescent lamp (CFL) bulbs—at the head office of the Karnataka power transmission corporation (KPTCL), in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

How the BJP has raised witchcraft to statecraft

1 February 2011

SHOULD THIS MAN REALLY REVEAL ANY MORE IN PUBLIC?

As if more evidence was required to be proffered to the nation that the BJP’s disgraceful show in Karnataka is a daily dive from the pathetic to the ridiculous, the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has accused his detractors of employing “black magic” to finish him off politically and physically.

“I am not even sure of returning home after going to the Vidhana Soudha,” the ’2G Scam’-tained CM has said with a certitude that boggles the mind.

“There is a conspiracy to finish me off, and those who indulged in ‘black magic’ to unseat me from power but failed are indulging in it.” (Yediyurappa? 2G scam?)

As if on cue, the CM’s family priest Bhanuprakash Sharma has said he has advised his client to perform certain rituals to ward off evil. “I have advised him to perform the sahasra chandika yajna at the Chamundeswari Temple in Mysore and laksha modaka Ganapathi homa (offering 1 lakh modaks to Lord Ganesha),” he said.

The honourable chief minister has even decided to bare all for a surya namaskar in a river next week, according to some reports, although that isn’t a sight that will have people queueing up to see.

Yediyurappa has struck the “maata-mantra, threat-to-my-life” pose before; so if nothing else at least he is consistent in his mind-numbing superstition and obscurantism as the head of a supposedly “hi-tech” State.

“I am facing a threat to my life. I am aware of the places where they are performing the (maata-mantra) pujas to finish me off. Many of his opponents have suffered this fate fate in the past, and I could be the latest victim. They will be responsible if anything happens to my life. I will write to the home department complaining against the black magic of H.D. Deve Gowda and his sons. I will also write my will,” were Yediyurappa’s exact words in 2007.

Moreover, even at the height of the last but one round of the “crisis” surrounding his government, there were rumours that the gates of the Vidhana Soudha had been locked up days in advance of the assembly session after the requisite sacrifices had been made on its lawns to help the CM retain power.

But the real issue for the BJP should be the kind of signals its “Gatekeeper to the South” is sending by elevating witchcraft to the level of statecraft, by making it a part of the political and public discourse with such disdain for public taste?

Does a chief minister who has weathered concerted efforts by his colleagues, by his rivals, by his own party high command, and the now the governor to unseat him, really believe that he minister be ejected by a slice of lime, a piece of coconut and a little vermillion?

Does he really expect the people to believe this balderdash, this junk?

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File photograph: Chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa taking a holy dip at the Triveni sangama during the Poornakumbha Mela near T. Narasipur, in Mysore district in January 2010. (Karnataka Photo News)

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Also read: Do Yeddi & Co have no faith in our temples?

Do our gods sanction our politicians’ silly games?

Is Janardhana seve Janata seve in Kumaraswamy book?

The only place black magic works is in your mind

CHURUMURI POLL: Black magic in Silicon Halli?

How Big B pushed India to a regressive low

What the stars foretell for our avivekanandas

What she means is her portfolio, but she could…

23 September 2010

The Twitter bug bites the newly sworn-in minister of Karnataka, Shobha Karandlaje, in a Freudian sort of way.

What the controversial MLA from Yeshwanthpur probably means is that she has been allotted the “power” portfolio in the recast team. But having unwittingly been made a sacrificial lamb in the battle between chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and the Reddy brothers last November, the tweet could well contain a note of exultation at having got back what had been cruelly snatched from her.

Pavan Murali writes:

“It would be great if our ministers realize that with power comes responsibility. Not once have I seen a minister rejoice when they have had to shoulder additional responsibility, but we always see them unable to contain their excitement when offered more power. Unfortunate.”

Then again, as the historian John Dalberg-Acton said famously:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Linka via Pavan Murali

The Gateway to the South opens up once again

22 September 2010

On the day of her return to the BJP ministry in Karnataka, 10 months after the Reddy brothers had earned her scalp, Yeshwanthpur MLA Shobha Karandlaje takes the blessings of mentor and chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa after being sworn in as minister, at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Survival of the fittest is a great photo opportunity

Yella vokay, sototu-bootu, salwar-kameez yaake?

The handshake everybody loves to watch closely

The gateway to the South as seen from up above

Why does this poor, selfless soldier cry so much?

26 June 2010

Never trust a woman who laughs too much, and a man who cries too much, is a bit of native Kannada wisdom that is clearly alien to chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa who has shed tears for public consumption every year since taking over the reins of the State.

Two years ago, the self-confessed “farmer” wept copiously when meeting the mother of a farmer who was shot dead in firing in Haveri. Last November, he broke down in front of television cameras because he had had to drop his pet-minister Shobha Karandlaje and his pet-bureaucrat V.P. Baligar for “selfish ends”.

It was lights, camera, action replay during his speech at the Sadhana Samaavesha to mark two years of BJP rule in the state at the palace grounds in Bangalore on Friday.This time, the alleged provocation was the constant needling of the opposition parties of his government’s every move.

Is Yediyurappa not as strong as the BJP’s media minders would like us to believe? Or is he just using (or hoping to use) tears to wash away his troubles and tribulations?

Photographs: B.S. Yediyurappa at the BJP government’s sadhane samavesha in Bangalore in June 2010 (top); during a television interview in Delhi in November 2009; at the residence of Shanthamma, the mother of a farmer who was killed in police firing shortly after he was sworn in June 2008 (bottom);  Karnataka Photo News and TV grab

Also read: Why are our brave, macho men crying so much?

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The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

How a chief minister should drink tea. (Or not.)

Let the rebels know, the CM will not bow one inch

Even four pairs of hands can’t stave off the flak

Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

Behind every successful cyclist, there are a few men

Life’s a cycle. What goes up must come down.

A leg up for the one is a leg up for the other

The emperor’s new clothes has a loose button

Look, who’s shaming the moral police in State

15 February 2010

Former Karnataka minister Shobha Karandlaje, quoted in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“Agreed, pubs are not part of Indian culture. But if a youngster’s family has no problem in him or her going there, why should the Rama Sene (blamed for the attack on women in a Mangalore pub last year) bother?”

Read the full article: In BJP, she isn’t afraid to ask

Also read: Look, who’s blasting the disgrace in Mangalore

How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

CHURUMURI POLL: Girls drinking beer not Hindu?

Giving Lord Rama a good name 24 x 7 x 365

REVEALED: The Yeddy-Reddy secret formula*

11 November 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The political imbroglio involving Yeddy (single) and Reddy (triple), which looked like a mathematical indeterminate just a few days ago, has been solved.

After all.

This is  not because the central leadership of the BJP exercised their power and stood up tall to quell the rebellion, not because the chief minister stooped lower and lower to accommodate the major wishes of the Miner Bothers, but because of the acceptance of all the necessary and sufficient conditions imposed by them.

We know only a few of the conditions which were discussed in the open—like Shobha Karandlaje and V.P. Baligar—but the full text of the N & S conditions were found in a chit near the resort in Hyderabad.

A BJP observer hovering near the airport area found the all-revealing chit, the size of a gutka paper, which gave the  pointwise items agreed upon between the chief minister (also referred to as Kamsa) and Janardhana Reddy (alias Krishna).

The Brothers feel the conditions will usher in Rama Rajya again and the ‘new golden’ period will be better than the one during Krishna Devaraya.

The conditions as mentioned in the soiled chit now agreed, approved and soon–to–be-promulgated are as under:

1. Bellary will be the new IT (Information Technology) capital of Karnataka. All the major IT offices will immediately move their offices to Bellary. The entire cost of new offices, shifting etc will be met by the triumvirate.

2. Consequently, the existing IT (income tax) department will be shifted out of Bellary preferably out of Karnataka.

3. US President Barack Obama should be instructed to use phrase such as ‘Bellaried’ rather than ‘Bangalored’.

4. Vidhana Soudha will be shifted to Bellary stone-by-stone. The entire cost will be borne by the trio.

5. Dasara will be shifted to Bellary from Mysore. The elephants will be airlifted from Nagarahole direct to the site. Jamboosavari and torchlight parade will be celebrated in a new stadium with a capacity of 1,00,000, construction of which will start next week.

6. Each MLA in Karnataka should have his/ her own helicopter given the pathetic state of roads that the legislators have lorded over in the last 60 years, to speedily attend to flood/ drought relief work.

7. The MLAs need not depend on the State exchequer for their salary or local area development funds. They can keep the same as pocket money. Arrangements have already been made to have their new salary, of undisclosed amount, to them in person.

8. The metro work underway in Bangalore should be suspended and shifted to Bangalore piece by piece.

9. Bellary is to will have an international Reddy Airport like Kennedy Airport. It will be funded privately.

The Bellary Brothers also had a few conditions for the central leadership.

1.  Sushma Swaraj, whom they hold in high esteem like their mother, should immediately take over as BJP President. She will be referred to as ‘Ma Sush Swaraj’ by one and all.

2.  Advaniji, who is like Bhishma Pitamaha, will advise Ma Sush Swaraj about affairs of State, if and when asked.

3.  Advaniji will be provided with a Hummer, converted into a chariot, so that he can often go on his Bharath Rath Yatra.  Rajnath Singhji, the new Vidura, will stay put in Delhi.

4.  Arun Jaitley, the new Dronacharya, will be made the new BCCI and IPL Chief so that he doesn’t have to bother about Karnataka any more.

*Tongue in cheek, conditions apply

The clock’s ticking again on a clumsy compromise

10 November 2009

Editorial in The Indian Express on the BJP crisis in Karnataka:

“The compromise formula — a minister exiting, officials replaced — may have bought the Karnataka wing of the BJP time. But the clock is ticking, and another round of bickering cannot be said to be averted.

“The sordid drama was regrettable on many counts. For one, it exposed the unsavoury interface between business and politics. Then there are too many questions left hanging. Can partisan interests hold a government hostage? Can bureaucrats and district officials become pawns in chess games that their political masters play?

“For the steel frame to be so blatantly twisted speaks of its complete subordination to the political process. But the most disquieting aspect of the drama was its pettiness…. The clumsy compromise, that too played out in public, has highlighted the absence of a strong central leadership that can exert its will.”

Read the full editorial: Present tense

As Akbar asked, ‘Karnatak ka takht chahiye ya…?’

6 November 2009

In The Telegraph, Calcutta, Radhika Ramaseshan invokes a line from Mughal-e-Azam to explain the Karnataka conundrum:

Anarkali” is ready to leave but the dissidents are still asking for “Salim’s” head.

“Karnataka minister Shobha Karandlaje’s exit seems almost certain but BJP leaders were not yet sure whether the resignation of chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s confidante would buy peace with the recalcitrant Reddy brothers of Bellary….

“Earlier this week, a source had hinted at a solution to the standoff over flood relief efforts by quoting a line from the film Mughal-e-Azam — “Hindustan ka takht chahiye ya Anarkali (Do you want to rule Hindustan or covet Anarkali?)?”

“It was the choice Akbar had ordered Salim (later Jehangir) to make when he found out that his son was besotted with the courtesan.”

Read the full story: Salim to dump Anarkali, but rivals bay for blood

After ‘world-famous Dasara’, the infamous Mysore

2 November 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was fuming as she fanned herself with a beesanige in the October heat.

The scheduled power cut in Ajji‘s votthaara varied from eight to ten hours a day, apart from the unscheduled power cuts which could stretch to any length of time depending on whether they was a BJP meeting or a BJP rebels meeting or a Congress meeting at the National High School grounds.

“After atheevrishti, now it’s anaavrushti. After the plenty, now the poverty,” thought Ajji.

Less than a month ago, there were serial light thoranas of 100 bulbs for every 50 feet on major roads through out the City for 10 days. Not to mention the Amba Vilas palace with one lakh bulbs lit for 10 days, three hours every night.

My brother’s son, Papu, who had come for Deepavali holidays and was preparing for his geography exams read aloud ‘Kaggatthaleya Khanda–Africa’.

An incensed Ajji corrected him.

Papacchi! ‘Kaggatthaleya Kugrama Mysuruantha odo.”

I was surprised, for Ajji normally never loses her cool.

Yenu samachara Ajji? ‘Muttidare Muni’ aagiddiya ivatthu?’

Alvo! Is anybody bothered about Mysore? There is endless ‘powarkattu’ day and night. Businessmen and industrialists are twiddling their thumbs. Roads at night look like daily Amavasya. Walking is a Herculean exercise moving between Shobha Karandlaje’s potholes that is Mysore now!’

“That’s true, Ajji.”

“But just a month back the minister, her CM, cabinet colleagues and the babudom from Vidhana Soudha were all  holidaying here with lights on day and night at a stretch. If we didn’t have the light thorana, they could have illuminated a quarter of our City, and in four years the whole city would be well lit.”

“That was Dasara, Ajji.”

“Yes, the “world–famous Dasara” for 10 days! Mysoreans go through hell, the rest of the year, the balance 354 days, having to endure poor infrastructure such as horrible roads and no streetlights even on major roads. Hunsur Road has no street lights and so too long stretches of KRS Road leading to world-famous Brindavan Gardens. Most of the jobs ‘completed’ for Dasara are all hotchpotch third-rate work.  Contractors are lucky to get away scot-free.”

“Ajji! Chescom chief Shanthi says two out of four generators in Raichur Thermal Power Station are down.”

“Is there anything new? I have been hearing the same story over the last 10 years! When has it ever worked fully? I read in Prajavani, if we stop illegal corrupt connections, thefts and power losses, we will have enough power to light up even a small hut in a village in the whole of Karnataka. Shanthamma herself will agree that there is enough money in Karnataka amongst some of its polticians and government staffu to start four more thermal power stations. Santhosh Hegde knows who all can be called upon to finance the project!”

“Ajji, you are batting like Sehwag hitting sixer after sixer!”

Matthenu madodu? Mysoreannu  keLuvare illa. Subbamma’s son, Venkatesha’s electronic relaysu chipsu factory anthe. Since there is no power whole day, doesn’t even go to his factory.”

Ajji! This is not chips that you eat! It is an electronic component.”

“Whatever! Aayamma Karandlaje , what is she doing? I read, she is already planning for next Dasara! For heaven’s sake! You know what should be the slogan of Mysoreansu? “Shobamma! Give us our daily power, better roads, water to drink. Thanks!! Please Keep Dasara to yourself”!”

CHURUMURI POLL: Who is behind BJP crisis?

2 November 2009

The BJP crisis in Karnataka—ostensibly over the levy of a tax on mine owners, the turf war in Bellary over the flood rehabilitation, the overreach of Shobha Karandlaje, etc—has reached an interesting phase with the former Union minister H.N. Ananth Kumar‘s name being openly mentioned as the source of the fracas.

What started off as a pureplay Reddy Brothers’ attempt to dislodge B.S. Yediyurappa has assumed the contours of a full-fledged internecine battle, given Ananth Kumar’s proximity to L.K. Advani and the party’s interlocutor, Arun Jaitley.

Is Kumar firing from the shoulders of the Reddys? Is the Congress playing dirty, using he Reddys’ closeness to Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy‘s son, Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is also their business partner? Or is Yediyurappa himself responsible for what’s happening, given his style of functioning?

Or, is this crisis only to have been expected given the manner in which the BJP government was formed?

Did Manchalamma take revenge on Mantralaya?

25 October 2009

Manchalamma(Durga)

MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN writes from Hubli: It is three weeks since the pilgrim township of Mantralaya, the abode of Saint Raghvendraswamy Swamy on the Andhra-Karnataka border, suffered extensive devastation due to swirling waters of the river Tungabhadra.

Even as the town is inching back to normality, several questions remain unanswered.

Nobody has so far tried to explain the reason for the sudden flooding of the Tungabhadra river, which resulted in the unprecedented phenomenon of the shrine getting inundated. The water level had touched the portals of the main shrine before but never in its over-300-year recorded history had it come inside to inundate the Vrindvana and catch the township in its clutches.

Barring some areas of Mantralaya which were in a slightly elevated position, like the Venkateshwara temple and its vicinity, the entire township was submerged under 10-20 feet of water.

The flood extracted a heavy price, in terms of loss of property and physical infrastructure, modestly pegged at around Rs 50 crore.  What is priceless has been the loss of the treasure trove of books including the palm leaf manuscripts some of them dating back to the time of Raghavendra Swamyji.

The silver lining was that there was no loss of human life. But several heads of cattle of the Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, including the elephant, perished in the process.

A new Mantralaya has to be built afresh says Sri Suyateendra Teertha Swamiji, the peetadhipati of the Rayara Mutt, who was among those who had a miraculous escape.

***

However, the big question remains: What caused this?

Was it a case of human failure, a freak phenomenon of nature, which went unnoticed?

Or was it a case of divine retribution of sorts?

In the days leading upto the floods, there had been no reports of heavy rains in the catchment area on the upper reaches of the Tungabhadra dam, resulting in heavy discharges from the dam. This is usually the contributory factor for the flooding of the downstream areas, affecting the monuments of Hampi including the stone mantapa of the Saint Purandaradasa, and raising the level of the river in Mantralaya, located around 150 kms away.

The discharge from the dam, remained between one lakh cusecs and 1.49 lakh cusecs for the first week October.

It did not even touch the 2 lakh cusecs mark, as had happened many times earlier.

The Tungabhadra Board, the interstate body which oversees the discharges from the dam, would normally notify in the case of heavy discharges. But no such warning had been issued since the discharges this time were considered normal or even less than normal.

Obviously something happened between the dam and the shrine to cause unexpected floods.

According to information that can now be pieced together, the villain of the piece for the Mantralaya, was not the aberration of the main river Tungabhadra but the tantrums thrown by the rivulets and stream which tattoo the area between the dam and Mantralaya.

The area is drained by rivulets like Hagari (also known as Vedavati)  and streams like Hirehalla and Narihalla to name a few. All of them, without exception, went in spate adding to the misery.

Normally these are not taken seriously.

But this time all of them had assumed a quite ferocious proportion and the significance of the same was hardly taken note of. This is what extracted the heavy price Mantralaya has had to pay.

From information your reporter could gather, there had been heavy-to-very-heavy downpour in the catchment areas of Hagari on the fateful nights in both Bellary and Siruguppa taluks.  This area received more than four times the normal rainfall of around 547 millimetres, the bulk coming on the first two days of October.

The rain gauge stations in Bellary taluk recorded rainfall of 522 and 892 mm on these two days, while it was 654 and 1194 mm in Siruguppa.

Hagari joins Tungabhadra near Hachcholli in Siruguppa taluk of Bellary district, on the upper reaches of Mantralaya and several of the streams flowing across Koppal and Raichur districts brought copious flows due to heavy rainfall too to the main river.

If only somebody in these areas had bothered to notice the phenomenon and alerted the governments concerned on the possible consequences it could entail, perhaps the blow in Mantralaya could have been softened and the people, including the pilgrims visiting Mantralaya, would not have been taken by surprise and it would have been possible to salvage materials lost.

But monitoring the rain gauges is a low priority all across Karnataka and Bellary was no exception.

The problems of the people in Mantralaya trapped by the sudden rise in the water level were further compounded by the slow response of the Andhra Pradesh government in arranging for rescue operations.

The Karnataka government went out of its way to rescue Suyatindrateertha swamiji, who heads one of the important seats of the dwaita philosophy. It despatched a helicopter and a minister Shobha Karandlaje, a confidante of the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa for the purpose.

After having done that, the Karnataka did not extend helping hand to others stranded, bulk of whom belonged to Karnataka. It may be due to primarily intergovernment hassles over the territorial jurisdiction and also because of similar developments elsewhere within the state.

The signs of developing human tragedy and suffering inherent in the Mantrayalam development obviously did not catch the imagination of the media, both electronic and print, both of national and regional hues.

Transport connections to Mantralaya, both road and rail, had been cut off during the period. The rain water had submerged rain tracks in the vicinity, and road links to other parts of Andhra Pradesh and with neighbouring districts of Raichur and Bellary districts had been snapped. The only road link available was via Yemmiganur but it could not be accessed because of the continued presence of flood water.

The plight of around 3000 people caught in the quagmire was only seen to be believed. Men, women, children had taken shelter on the roof tops waiting for the assistance, which was getting elusive and not within reach. They had had a quite harrowing time and had to go without anything to eat or drink.

But none of this appeared as meat for the media.

The media’s interest was limited to the act of rescuing the swamiji by the Karnataka government and did not go beyond it. Once that was accomplished, none bothered about Mantralaya or the plight of the pilgrims and residents of the temple-town.

Even the regional papers in Karnataka failed to rise to the occasion, in arranging for proper coverage, although most of the marooned pilgrims happened to be from the State. The marooned people had to wait for the water level to recede before they could move out of Mantralaya to their destinations.

Several theories are afloat to buttress the theory that the flooding of the holy place was nothing but an act of divine retribution of sorts.

One theory is that it was the delay in the rebuilding of the temple of Manchalamma, the family deity of Raghavendra Swamy, which had been dismantled for the purpose, could be the causative factor. A second theory doing the rounds suggests the accumulated sins of omission and commission of those concerned.

Despite all that happened, it must be said there was no loss of life in Mantralaya. Some dead bodies, which were floating around are believed to be of those who had been washed away. None in Mantralaya lost his/her life, it is stated by the sources close to the Raghavendraswamy Mutt.)

Whatever maybe reason, it is clear that the Mantralaya has an arduous haul ahead to regain its lost glory. The flood it is said, has put the clock of development back by at least two decades.

Photograph: courtesy Shree Vartha

Also read: Madi, the mutt head, and the hand that helped

Everybody’s hands are up for the photo cameras

3 October 2009

prabhu-praje

P. Mahamud, the hard-hitting cartoonist of the Kannada daily Praja Vani, captures the week’s biggest events—the “prabhugalu” going through their yoga callisthenics in Suttur, and the “prajegalu” going through hell in North Karnataka—in a pocket cartoon that every MLA and minister, every bureaucrat, babu and clerk, and indeed every mediaperson, should frame and keep.

Link courtesy Gagan K.

Also by Mahmud: Classical language status for Mandya Kannada

End of the beginning? Beginning of the end?

The rope on which hangs the hope of Yedi

Desh ki neta kaise ho? Abdul Kalam jaise ho

Wah, Taj! The 8th wonder of the world is this one

Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

30 September 2009

CM

In the run-up to the general elections, the “former future prime minister of India” pumped iron to the pop of the photo bulbs. At the chintan baithak of BJP ministers at the JSS Mutt in Suttur, 28 km from Mysore, on Wednesday, chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, his cabinet colleague Shobha Karandlaje, and their colleagues limber up for Thursday morning’s newspapers.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

***

The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

Is it an idol? Is it a statue? Is it a mannequin?

One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

Yedi, steady, go: all the gods must be crazy

Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

It’s not the winning that counts, it’s the grinning

24 September 2009

KPN photo

At the Dasara half-marathon, the minister in charge of Mysore district, Shobha Karandlaje, shows her youthful best as her cabinet colleague Gulihatti Shekhar and others try to keep pace, in Mysore on Thursday. Don’t ask us if she completed the race or not.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Dabbudabbudabbu dot Dasara in Bellary dotcom

2 August 2009

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: With Dasara festivities only a few months away, furious preparations are underway at various levels.

Who’s thinking what?

***

Chief Minister (while addressing the Dasara celebration committee): “I want this year’s Dasara to be the grandest ever. If you want money for anything—anything—as long as it has something to do with Dasara, you have only to ask me.”

CM (to himself):  “I must get Advaniji to open the Dasara at Chamundi Hills come what may. That way Ananth‘s plan to get Raj Nath Singhji will be nipped in the bud? I hope the President doesn’t accept Shobha‘s invite, or the Ambani Brothers, the Reddy Brothers’ invite.”

***

Reddy brothers: “Abbayi! Yentha hungama idi! How much will it cost to get Chamundi Hills here, fly the elephants and organize the 10-day stuff including torchlight parade? Let’s throw a challenge and do Dasara in Bellary. And we must set up a website: dabbudabbudabbu dot mysoredasara in bellary dot com with a Twitterulu and Facebook accountulu.”

***

Meanwhile at the Dubare elephant camp:

Mahout leader: “If the government does not cough up more TA/ DA,  I will make sure there’s no Jamboo Savari this year. I will say Balarama has broken his leg. We will not be fooled again by the DC and district minister having khara baath, rava kesari and jamoon for breakfast with us in front of TV and newspaper wallahs.”

Balarama: “Gajapayana, my foot! There’s no way I am going to walk all the way and trek back once again. I would like to be picked up, along with my girlfriends at the camp and dropped back, sort of door–to-door service. We should also have some majaa like the others. Otherwise let them manage with elephant cutouts from Rangayana!”

***

At the City and district offices:

Contractor: “Only Rs 2 crore for tarring the roads? I just did that stretch last month. Luckily the rains, though late, have washed off all the tar. I must ask for more money as the number of heads to share has increased. Otherwise I have to do a ‘remix’ with more sand and less cement!”

Mayor: “Dasara is almost upon us and hope it goes well this year. But what’s the guarantee? Will I even get an invitation? Will they give me enough time to put on my robe before hauling me up the crane to garland Balarama? Most important, will I get a chair to sit in Bannimantap?”

Corporation Commissioner: If the phata-phat JNNURM subway doesn’t come up after so many months, I will become naram. Hope the pourakarmacharis don’t strike work on those 10 days!”

Hotel: “Doubling the room rates is not enough to make up for bleak business for the rest of the year. Also the touts sweeping the railway station and bus stand for customers are asking for more commission. If we cannot increase room tariff, must ‘adjust’ in lunch and dinner with holillada sambhar and neeru saaru.”

Autorickshaw driver: “We have to do something with our meters; must get them ‘refixed’ again at the rate of at least 1: 1.5.  Duplicate petrol rates have also increased. Must get association to do a directory of the main duplicate petrol depots in the City so that we don’t have to burn a hole in our pockets filling the real thing.”

Sub-Committee Member: After spilling lot of blood, sweat, tears and you-know-what, I have become a sub- committee member. If I don’t get a sizeable mamool, it will all be a huge waste and Dasara will be a dead loss for me.”

Police Commissioner: “I can make sure Dasara is trouble free despite communal and terror fears. But how will I control the ministers’ families, aunts and nieces, nephews and grand nephews, first and nth cousins with their dogs and goats. I am already getting nightmares in the mornings already.”

Deputy commissioner: “There are a zillion and one things to do and only 24 hours in my organiser. I also have to keep my bags packed each day as I may be asked to move and report at Bidar, Bookana Kere or wherever.”

***

Meanwhile…

The general public: “With thogari bele and hesaru bele prices hitting the roof and aloo gedde becoming something like gold to be sold only in C. Krishnaiah Chetty & Sons and Bhima Jewellers, what shall we eat? How can we fill our stomachs listening to Sonu Nigam, Kunal Ganjawala, Guru Kiran or dancing with Vasundara Doreswami and singing with Vasundara Das…?

Everyone is naked in the chief minister’s hamaam

15 June 2009

CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes from Bangalore: It seems that former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is a much harried man these days.

A local newspaper reports that a “mystery woman” has been calling his mobile phone and showering a barrage of abuse.

“About 10 months ago, a girl called me up. Initially she narrated her woes. Later she started hounding me and also hurled abuses, the nature of which I can’t share. She used to make calls at 3 am and even at 4 am.”

The report also says, an embarrassed Kumaraswamy has discreetly sought the help of the city cops to identify the “stalker”.

Aside from the female angle, there is something delectable about this story:  a powerful man being helpless as the rest of humankind in the face of anonymous phone calls; the sight of an honourable member of Parliament fighting to save his honour in the eyes of the world.

KumaraswamyFor, there have been other mornings, when newspapers have spiced up my idli-sambar by candidly highlighting the former Chief Minister’s affections for the actress Radhika, but HDK could barely be bothered.

When the two appeared together at a religious ceremony—the Ashta Pavithra Nagamandalotsava (in picture)—organised by the actress’s family near Mangalore recently, still no response.

Unlike his father H.D. Deve Gowda, whose obsessive preoccupation with politics never gave him time for anything else, HDK, a film producer before he took the plunge in politics, seems to bring in a range of flavours where the real and reel overlap.

So, you wonder: is HDK a changed man?

If so, who’s behind the change?

***

For historical reasons, our English broadsheets have been reluctant to cater to the base instincts of their readers. But with the rise of other unconventional, bolder, faster channels of information, repackaging of news has become the norm.

Nothing is flippant or frivolous any more.

Anything goes in the name of giving the reader what he wants.

And with the private lives of our public figures becoming increasingly, nonchalantly, arrogantly colourful, everything goes to grab a few extra eyeballs.

nurseFor instance in 2007,  there was the curious case of M.P. Renukacharya, a married BJP legislator, whose romantic liaison with “nurse” Jayalakshmi (in picture) was the defining image of the day. Charges, counter-charges and intimate photographs of the MLA smooching the woman provided grist for a sensation-starved media.

At one point, it appeared as if this lusty controversy would sink the JD(S)- BJP boat. It was believed that JD (S) would ride on the skirts of this affair and accuse the BJP of impropriety and refuse to transfer power to its alliance partner as previously agreed.

Renukacharya is now among the BJP MLAs gunning for the head of chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

***

The amorous dalliances of Karnataka’s politicians have enlivened many living room gossip sessions but rarely so publicly.

A knowledgeable reporter-friend, considered an “authority” on the ‘apolitical inclinations’ of  the State’s leading lights, used to be a mandatory inclusion in most party guest lists. A couple of gin-tonic shots and the skeletons start tumbling out of the cupboards.

There is no such use, it seems, for such inside knowledge. It’s all out in the open.

shobhaIn recent times, chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s  “proclivities” have been blissfully up for public scrutiny. There are not-so-subtle hints in news reports on the “great personal rapport” he shares with a lady colleague in his cabinet.

Since there is only one woman in the BJP team, there is little left to the imagination.

There are accusations of favoritism, nepotism and what not.

This “friendship” has resulted in party loyalists feeling slighted and sidelined. They seem to be getting more brazen. The political storm taking shape in the firmament could well swirl into the Chief Minister’s bedroom if he doesn’t watch out.

But to his credit Yediyurappa has remained unflappable not bothering to react on the subject. He has made every effort to project his cabinet colleague as an invaluable ally in his government’s development agenda. Moreover, the BJP’s Lok Sabha showing has only infused him with more ‘vigour and vitality’, if nothing else.

*** (more…)


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