Posts Tagged ‘Vidhana Soudha’

Everything is hunky-dory in reflected glory

19 November 2013

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A November shower gives photographers yet another opportunity to capture the “seat of government”, the Vidhana Soudha, in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: When George Fernandes tried to blow up Vidhana Soudha

Do glaciers move faster than Bangalore Metro?

22 October 2013

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Two years on, and M.G. Road to Byappanahalli is still the only metro link in Bangalore that is up and running. Elsewhere, like here opposite the Vidhana Soudha and High Court, as Bangaloreans wind their way around boards and barricades with a frown on their faces and a curseword on their lips, it appears as if Namma Metro is a project in perpetuity with a deadline schedule all its own. A bit like M.S. Ramaiah‘s famous buildings.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why on earth does Bangalore metro look so ugly?

Also view: The complete namma metro photo portfolio

An architectural beauty, yes, but user-friendly?

16 October 2013

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Back when it was built, the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore perhaps looked big and beautiful and daunting, and conveyed the full might of the “State”. It perhaps even inspired some of those who secured a five-year lease of occupation. But who can argue that it is the most the user-friendly, for the rulers or the ruled, in the 21st century?

Notwithstanding that, dozens of replicas of Kengal Hanumanthaiah‘s architectural legacy have sprung up all over Karnataka. If the districts have scale-models in the ‘Mini’ Soudha, in faraway-Belgaum there is a near-replica of the original one, the Suvarna Soudha, and it doesn’t look half as pretty when your gaze turns to the shepherd.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Bangalore’s best building since Vidhana Soudha

When George Fernandes tried to blow up Vidhana Soudha

What lies beneath the soil millions have walked

22 August 2013

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The Vidhana Soudha, buitt during chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah‘s time, may be Bangalore’s most famous building, but in the mind’s eye of the common Kannadiga, it is an area named after a movie hall that bears the greatest resonance.

“Majestic” is where the main railway and bus stations in Bangalore are located, disgorging people from near and far across the State into the big city’s bowel.

The last big construction was during the late R. Gundu Rao‘s time, when the Kempe Gowda bus station was built. As the innards of an iconic area are excavated for the metro rail project, the mind boggles to see how much longer is it going to take.

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The namma Metro photo portfolio

Everybody’s nervous and anxious on the first day

29 May 2013

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The multilingual actor Sumalatha (third from left, front row) sits in the visitors’ gallery at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Wednesday, as the first session of a new assembly begins, with her husband, the actor and former MP, Ambareesh, in the revenue benches as a debutant minister.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Why is corruption not an issue in Karnataka poll?

12 April 2013

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As the election scene hots up in Karnataka, the commentariat is swinging into action.

Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi writes in the Indian Express:

“Over the past decade, Karnataka has acquired the dubious distinction of being among the most corrupt states, competing with the likes of Jharkhand. Yet, discomfort over the issue of corruption has been restricted largely to the English media, and possibly some upper-class activists. Why, then, has corruption not become a core electoral issue, despite the nationwide anti-corruption campaign in recent times.

“Consider this: corruption is no longer a visible act, like bribe-taking or collecting commission on state projects. Rather, it has become broad-based manipulation of public policy for private profit and hence, invisible. Notions of the public good are absent from policymaking, as the politician-entrepreneur has taken centrestage.

“Perhaps this was true even two decades ago, when politicians began establishing capitation-fee-paying medical and technical institutions, or started mining granite. But now the scale of profits, especially from mining (iron ore in Bellary and surrounding districts), as well as the real estate industry in Bangalore, has transformed political culture and policymaking.

“Note that the beneficiaries of this new corruption aren’t the old elite from the landowning castes, but upstarts from all caste and economic backgrounds. Invariably, they have entered politics to consolidate their burgeoning business interests and mould public policy for their benefit. Janardhana Reddy is perhaps the best known example of this new breed of politician.

“If there hasn’t been vocal opposition to such manipulation of public policy, the reason is simple: this new corruption is often justified as a victimless crime, since only the natural resources owned by the state are being exploited, and no single individual is victimised. More significantly, the spoils of this new corruption are generously shared and percolate to different sections of society. Sharing the wealth of these illicit activities has become the basis for a new political populism in Karnataka.”

Samar Halarnkar in the Hindustan Times:

“If there is to be a barometer of India’s soaring aspirations — and its grim political and administrative realities — look no further than Karnataka, a microcosm of emerging India, which goes to the polls next month and could serve as a precursor to next year’s national elections.

“If corruption was institutionalised by successive Congress governments, the state’s first BJP government made it a way of life, with more heart than it did Hindutva, its Hindu-first ideology. So it is that B.S. Yediyurappa, the former BJP chief minister who handed out crores to Hindu religious institutions (the latest budget sets aside more than Rs. 182 crore) and shut out minorities from his Cabinet, declares that his new outfit, the Karnataka Praja (People’s) Party, is strictly secular.

“If Narendra Modi showcases his administrative acumen, his party in Karnataka represents a baser, corrupted, caste-ridden avatar. Even if Modi, who is popular in urban Karnataka, campaigns for the BJP, the state may dump his party.”

Photograph: A dry borewell opposite the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: How BJP pushed Karnataka into cesspool of caste

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

How BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

‘BJP’s lotus grows in the muck; so do BJP people’

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: Karnataka, Bihar of the South?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

Those who live by the Reddys shall die by them

If there’s a traffic jam, it’s most likely cause is…

13 February 2013

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It’s probably a cruel thing to say, given that Ratan Tata has hung up his gigantic boots and is enjoying the fruits of recruitment. But, surely, it is no exaggeration to say that 8 out of 10 cars that break down in the middle of the road are ones bearing his surname?

As one did near the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The best advertisement for safety of Hyundai?

Double-riding a Honda in the era of helicopter joyrides

If only you could do this to the Vidhana Soudha…

8 January 2013

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Photographers at tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal prod visitors to pinch their fingers in such a way as to make it seem as if you are lifting the gigantic monument. The cranes of the metro rail project do the needful for the cameras opposite the intrigue-filled Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The Namma Metro photo portfolio

When Fernandes tried to blow up Vidhana Soudha

4 January 2013

Like him or loathe him, there is no ignoring U.R. Anantha Murthy. As an academic, as a writer and as a public intellectual, URA has towered over the political, social and linguistic landscape for more than half a century.

In post-liberalised India and in post-IT Karnataka, Meshtru (as URA is known to friends, foes, friends turned foes and foes turned friends) has tilted bravely and unceasingly at the windmills, taking up unfashionable causes that Mammon had stubbed out.

Now, the indefatigable Anantha Murthy is penning his memoirs, throwing fresh light on a long and colourful life among letters. Excerpts:



We accept many beliefs without questioning them, and start propagating them. It is possible here to be a revolutionary and a part of the establishment at the same time.

When the Congress declared an Emergency, the CPI helped them along. One could simultaneously be a communist and a supporter of the ruling Congress.

Most Indian intellectuals are like that.

In those days (the 1970s), if you asked those talking revolution whether they would like to visit the US or the USSR, they would choose the first. That’s because there was no warm water in the Soviet Union. No room heaters either.

India’s biggest problem is hypocrisy. It has taken root deeper than we imagine.

When the Janata Party came to power in Karnataka in 1983, many of us found it possible to balance out our lofty principles with our proximity to authority. It is difficult to proclaim that our actions were free of selfish motives.

A good number who came looking for me, in the knowledge that I was close to Ramakrishna Hegde and J.H. Patel, no longer remain my friends. Thanks to my obliging nature, I became a vehicle for their vested interests.

I didn’t touch any money, but I am troubled that I watched corrupt acts without saying a word. A mind that hesitates to say what must be said becomes corrupt. The Janata alliance that took on Indira Gandhi was the creation of an affluent class.


Meeting George Fernandes

Before the Emergency was imposed, I had written a review of the novel Gati Sthiti (Progress and Reality) by Giri.

I received a huge envelope by post some days after the publication of my review. It contained another review of the book, and criticised some of my observations. I couldn’t figure out who had written it. The letter was in Kannada and English.

“Come and meet me in Bangalore at once,” it said.

I guessed it was from George Fernandes.

He had tried to organise a massive railway strike before the Emergency, and failed. The police were looking for him, but he had slipped away. All the other big leaders of the time were already in jail.

Shivarama Karanth told me: “Only those who have participated in the 1942 movement might know what to do in these difficult times. George is a follower of Jayaprakash Narayan, isn’t he? He must be active in the underground movement.”

It occurred to me that I should contact my friend Pattabhirama Reddy and Snehalata in Bangalore. They were inspired by the socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia, and had turned my novel Samksara into a film.

When I met him, Pattabhi took the envelope from me, winked, and said, “I will take you to George secretly”.

The two of us got into a car one evening. “Good not to know where you are going. Blindfold yourself. Even if the police torture you, you shouldn’t be able to tell them where you met George,” he said.

We drove for 45 minutes, and reached a decrepit church.

We walked into a dark room.

George was sitting on a cot. He was unrecognisable. He had grown his hair and beard long. I went up to him and touched him. He embraced me. George’s younger brother Lawrence came in. He looked older than George. He had a lunch box in his hand.

As we sat talking about his family and mine, worms kept dropping on us from the roof of the church. George was pulling out the palmer worms and scratching himself all through our conversation. He gave me a mission with these points:

Snehalata had to go to a rarely used lavatory in Vidhana Soudha. Making sure no one was around, she had to explode a bomb at night. I had to provide some young men to help her. The explosion had to bring down a portion of the Vidhana Soudha, but not kill anyone.

Our objective was to hassle the government, and not to inflict violence on anyone. The government was convinced it could get away with anything, and people wouldn’t protest. If such subversive incidents took place every now and then, the frightened citizens would feel reassured something was afoot to dislodge the government. It was our duty to protect the people’s will to resist. We had to find a bridge there, and a government building here, and bring them down with dynamite.

If none of this was possible, my friends and I had to undermine the government in the manner of those who had resisted Nazism in Hitler’s Germany. We had to drop burning cigarette stubs into post boxes. That would force the government, as it had in Germany, to post a constable at every post box.

We returned after this conversation. I blindfolded myself even on the way back.

A constable always stood guard at the toilet, making it impossible to place a bomb at the Vidhana Soudha. I returned to Mysore, and with friends like Devanoor Mahadeva, tried to drop cigarette stubs into the post boxes. The stubs burnt themselves out without causing any damage.

George showed the same courage as Subhas Chandra Bose, and is a big hero of our times. We believed he was fit to become prime minister. But what happened to him later is unpalatable.

He never became corrupt for money, but he went to Gujarat after the violence, and came away as if nothing had happened. I could never understand this. Perhaps the desire to remain in power had corrupted his revolutionary mind.

The central minister who refused police escort has now lost his memory, and lies in bed.


Esther and home tuitions

My wife was a little girl with two plaits when I saw her as a student in Hassan. She came over to my house for tuitions. When she sang a film song at some event, it brought tears to my eyes. She sings well even today.

I had given her class an assignment: ‘Describe someone you like or dislike.’ She had written about me, and made fun of my style of teaching and gestures. The girl with plaits who could write this way about her lecturer had ignited my curiosity and interest.

The first door of my romantic world opened when I realised she could speak about me with such abandon. I didn’t want a girl who’d adore me; I wanted a companion. I fell in love with the girl who came to me on the pretext of taking tuitions. She was then just 16 or 17. I developed no physical intimacy with her. She was at an age when she didn’t know enough about the world’s ways, or about rights and wrongs. She interacted with me in all innocence. When she invited me over to her house, I felt I was entering another world.

Esther was one among many students who came for tuitions. While the others paid me a fee, Esther gave me her guileless love.

In those days, I liked keeping fish. A student had brought me some fish, which I had placed in a glass bowl. I was often lost in watching their movements. This would make Esther livid. “What are you doing there? Can’t you come here and do some lessons?” she would snap. She was outspoken even in those days.

My sister wasn’t married yet. I knew it would be difficult to find her a bride if I married out of caste. I had to wait a long time even after I had decided to marry Esther.

I went to Mysore after teaching for some years in Hassan. My mother was with me then. When she came to know about my relationship with Esther, she was disturbed. She would suddenly lose consciousness and slump to the ground. She would also complain about some pain.

When we took her to a doctor, he diagnosed it as a mental illness. She was tormented during this period. As a little boy, when she went to the hills for her ablutions in the morning, I would scream, “Amma, are you dead or what?” and keep crying till she called back.

Her agony on my account was something I could not take. I was distressed.


Death of my mother

My mother died in September 1995. A month before her death, I had taken a break from my work, and shifted to my brother’s house in Shimoga, where she was bed-ridden. Initially, she was conscious, but towards the end, she lay unconscious most of the time.

I used to sit by her side, talking, while she was still conscious. Anil was her favourite son. Being a doctor, he had fitted her with pipes and tubes, and struggled round the clock to keep her alive.

One day, I told him, “Let’s not keep her alive this way. Take away those things.”

I had gathered the courage to tell him that, and Anil needed the confidence. He did as suggested. I sat by my mother, held her hand, uttered a prayer, and said, “Everything is all right. You may go.”

Since she knew about Esther, I guessed she was apprehensive I wouldn’t conduct her last rites, and said, “I will take the initiative and perform all your rites.”

She left us a couple of days later. I couldn’t sit on the floor, so I broke convention and sat on a stool. I performed her rites with my brothers, trying all the while to understand the mantras.

My mother treated everyone with affection, but had never given up her ritual sense of purity. She was not a modern shy about her Brahmin caste, or rather, her sub-caste.

When she heard the Pejawar swamiji had visited a Dalit colony, she was bewildered. I congratulated him as I felt he was capable of influencing my mother.

Oblivious of the depth of such beliefs, my fellow-writers ridiculed me. Such intellectuals have no desire to change the thinking of people like my mother. My mother wouldn’t give up her caste, but believed taking vows and praying to Muslim holy men would cure children of certain ailments.


The house that started a row

I didn’t have a house of my own. I applied for one in Mysore. Poet Krishna Alanahalli took me to someone he knew and said, “Give our teacher a site.”

He did. The site was like a lane. “I don’t want it,” I said.

Krishna took me back to the official and said, “Not this one, give him another.” I got another site. Krishna liked me a lot, and said I should keep the first one, too. Afraid I would give in to temptation, I wrote a letter returning the earlier site. Krishna laughed at my foolishness.

By then, I had decided to move from Mysore to Bangalore. Award-winners are entitled to sites, and I got one during chief minister Veerappa Moily‘s time. It was a good plot, opposite a park.

Since we were about to come away from Mysore, I thought it would be better if we could get a house instead. When I mentioned this to my friend J.H. Patel, then chief minister, he said he would allot me a house in a colony originally meant for NRIs who could pay in dollars. I live in this house now.

Once the house was sanctioned, I returned my site.

Several people, under P. Lankesh‘s leadership, pounced on me, ignoring the fact that I had returned the site. A story first appeared in Lankesh Patrike. My utterly emotional and dear friend G.K. Govinda Rao demonstrated against me.

I wrote to Patel, requesting him to take back the house and give me the site again.

He tore up my letter and said, “Everything is legal, whatever people might say. If you don’t want this house, there’s another in my name. Shall I get it registered in your name?” I declined. Many articles appeared in the papers.

After some time, my detractors began to see the truth. Lankesh called up my house one day and asked Esther, “May I visit you?” She said, “Ask him,” and handed me the phone. I called him over. He arrived with a friend.

Esther went out of the house the moment he stepped in. I got some tea made for him. “Saw the new house?” I said. He replied, without any embarrassment, “Never mind, Ananthamurthy. All that’s over now.” He didn’t say another word about it.

We try to show our integrity through our prejudices. I don’t like this practice, among Kannada writers, of flaunting their integrity. We must hide our integrity, like we hide our love.

My friend B.S. Achar was struck by cancer. Lankesh wrote about it in his paper and announced he was giving him some money. Achar was disgusted. He returned the money. It didn’t occur to Lankesh, whose aim was publicity, to reflect if it was all right to write in his paper about his own acts of charity.


The modernist debate

Our discussions at Coffee House with Gopalakrishna Adiga inspired many of my writings. We lived in a world of our own, amidst the shared coffee and cigarettes. We were busy ushering in modernism in literature when a juke box, which we thought of as a symbol of modernism, arrived at Coffee House.

Attracted by its loud music, young people thronged the cafe. Modernity had snatched away the comfortable cane chairs that encouraged discussions about modernism.

We went to the parks, looking for space under the trees. Without coffee, our discussions lost their charm. We didn’t have money for beer at the pubs. And in any case, Adiga wouldn’t drink even though he was a modernist!

Translated by S.R. Ramakrishna

Excerpted from Suragi, U.R. Ananthamurthy’s autobiography, due for release soon


Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The U.R. Anantha Murthy interview

The mahaan elastic buddhijeevi of the year?

CHURUMURI POLL: Smooth, smart, stupid?

URA: A people’s manifesto for the 2008 elections

Is Anantha Murthy‘s Samskara a little too sexy?

URA: ‘India is the loser if Hindus become communal’

Hydrogen, oxygen and a world of difference

23 April 2012

As a mini-City gets built in front of (and under) the temporary address of those who shamelessly glug water out of bottles when millions of those who elected them go thirsty, a Metro worker lugs a can to quench the parched tongues of his heroic colleagues toiling away silently.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete Namma Metro portfolio

It’s not just birds of a feather that flock together

16 February 2012

While their unfeathered friends nestled in the so-called temple of democracy show a distinct distaste for decorum, a pigeon, a couple of mynas, and a couple of crows patiently line up to have a shower near the Vidhana Soudha, in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

A property broker with a Vidhana Soudha address

15 October 2011

Former muzrai (religious endowment) minister S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty, who collapsed in the Lok Ayukta court on Saturday, after special court judge N.K. Sudhindra Rao directed his arrest, being carried to an ambulance.

Shetty had to quit the B.S. Yediyurappa cabinet last year, following charges of his involvement in a scam in which land procured cheaply from farmers by a firm associated with him was resold to the Karnataka housing board (KHB) at a premium.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Namma Metro as the metaphor of ‘Avara’ Avarice

20 September 2011

Illegal mining scams, denotification scams, land grabbing scams, site allotment scams….

For a State that makes much of its nela (land) and jala (water), it is no surprise that all the rapacious rats who have been caught with their half-pants down—B.S. Yediyurappa, H.D. Kumaraswamy, Katta Subramanya Naidu et al and, horror, the man who was supposed to read the rulebook to them, Justice Shivraj Patil—were literally living up to their “sons of the soil” appendage.

No surprise, then, that the temple of “god’s work”, the Vidhana Soudha, too should look shaken, ravaged and teetering on the brink, like any real estate project in town, as work proceeds apace on the Namma Metro project on Ambedkar Veedhi, in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also view: The complete Namma Metro photo portfolio

The real hero of Yedi’s downfall: Kumaraswamy?

30 July 2011

One day he says he will “resign”; the next day his eyeballs glower in defiance. One day he is a “disciplined soldier of the party”; the next day he is a potential rebel. One day he says he built the party over 40 years; the next day he assembles scores of them in an open show of numbers.

And so goes on the disgraceful tragic-comedy of the party with a difference, even as a totally compromised “high command” that willingly turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption, casteism and destruction of the State’s fair name tries to assert its authority (before Parliament opens).

While B.S. Yediyurappa hangs on to his chair like dear life, a piece of furniture outside Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore shows where those who lose it could end up, on the cobbled tiles by the wayside.


While everyone is singing hosannas in praise of the Lok Ayukta, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, for finally bringing Yediyurappa to book, Saritha Rai doffs her hat to an unlikely figure, H.D. Kumaraswamy, in the Indian Express:

“In the noise surrounding the Lok Ayukta mining probe and Yediyurappa’s fall, what is forgotten is that the chief minister was not felled by one report. Rather, his defence was slowly but surely chipped away by a series of scathing attacks — led almost single-handedly by none other than his predecessor and one-time political ally H.D. Kumaraswamy.

“The mining report has singed Kumaraswamy too, but the Janata Dal (Secular) will still be celebrating the end of a successful ouster campaign…. During the course of his political career, Kumaraswamy has become adept at pulling the carpet from under his rivals’ feet; first the Congress and its chief minister Dharam Singh’s, and later the BJP and B.S. Yediyurappa’s….

“A confrontational Kumaraswamy, who only seems to get bolder and more aggressive with time, has relegated the Congress in Karnataka to the background. His father H.D. Deve Gowda may have branded himself “mannina maga” (son of the soil). His rivals may be wily and shrewd. But with his bulldog-like persistence, it is the opportunist Kumaraswamy who has ensured that he will be the reckoning factor in Karnataka politics.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Read the full article: Karnataka’s real showman

Is this why they want us to take part in elections?

3 June 2011

Row after row of empty seats in the Karnataka legislative assembly in Bangalore on Friday, as the Congress and JDS boycott proceedings in protest against the speaker disallowing a debate on the situation arising out of the Supreme Court’s observations while quashing his order disqualifying 16 MLAs.

A PTI report says the Congress legislature party has failed to arrive at a decision on whether to boycott the entire session, but a television report says a full boycott is on.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

On top down under, a tale of a work in progress

24 May 2011

As the Namma Metro project takes shape in front of our eyes, two contrasting images from two contrasting locations in Bangalore. The first, from in front of the pristine Vidhana Soudha in the heart of the City on a rainy day, with the statue of B.R. Ambedkar barricaded, as work goes on underneath. And the second, from the chaos in Yeshwanthpur, with a million railway and electricity lines seemingly criss-crossing the track overhead.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


The Namma Metro photo portfolio

If only someone could do this to save our State

“No free left” for residents of a famous highrise

Remember the helmets when it rains (or shines)

At Anil Kumble circle, a sharp googly to KSCA

In the darkness of night, a ray of light at 19:12:30 hours

The biggest day in the history of Bangalore?

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

If only someone could do this to save our State

15 May 2011

On a day when the disgraceful nataka in Karnataka got even more disgraceful—with god’s own party showing how bereft it is of ethics and values in clinging on to power for power’s sake—a crane at work on the Bangalore Metro project appears to do what many right-thinking people might like to do.

Which is, lift the Vidhana Soudha and….

Photograph: Manjunath N./ Karnataka Photo News


The Namma Metro photo portfolio

“No free left” for residents of a famous highrise

Remember the helmets when it rains (or shines)

At Anil Kumble circle, a sharp googly to KSCA

In the darkness of night, a ray of light at 19:12:30 hours

The biggest day in the history of Bangalore?

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

Only the ‘C’ is missing from each plate of ‘SKC’

12 May 2011

A samosa, a slice of plum cake, a piece of badam burfi, half a dozen cashewnuts, and a piece of tissue paper. The menu on offer for the media and dignitaries at the launch of a comprehensive e-payment system for commercial taxes at the Vidhana Soudha, in Bangalore on Thursday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

How the BJP has raised witchcraft to statecraft

1 February 2011


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?


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)


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

The biggest day ever in the history of Bangalore?

19 January 2011

How the nuts, bolts, rivets, cables, moats, etc, will look like under the wheels when Namma Metro slides into and slips out of the Ulsoor station for its trial run from Monday, January 24, 2011.

Is the launch of the Metro the most momentous event in the history of Bangalore? If not, which one? The opening of the Vidhana Soudha?

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


The Namma Metro photo portfolio

Do not try this at home (if you have a few bogies)

From the BEML end, right arm over the wicket

The giant violin-box hanging above ‘Parades’

It’s still not here, but it’s already kind of here

Yes, it’s for real, and it’s purple and off-white

4 cars, 3 SUVs, 8 bikes, and 16 autorickshaws

Oh God, what have they done to my M.G. Road

Saturdays, girlfriends, popcorn and other memories

Every picture tells a tale. Babu‘s can fill a tome.

Not a picture that will make it to Lonely Planet

Amar, Akbar, Antony. Or Ram, Robert, Rahim

Only a low-angle shot can convey its great girth

Lots of work overground for an underground rail

The unsung heroes in the dreams of Bangaloreans

10 steps to turn Vikasa Soudha to Vinasha Soudha

24 October 2010

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Indra, the king of Amravathi, and Vishwakarma, the first architect, were flying over southern India when Indra noticed a bunch of strange-looking men sweating all over, moving suit cases from city to city with much difficulty.

With his divya drushti, it didn’t take long for Indra to understand what’s going on.

Dissidence being a major preoccupation of the asuras in Karnataka, Indra felt the Emme Les deserved a headquarters of their own for the benefit of their “developmental” activities.

What better location than the Vikasa Soudha?

Since the State is also renowned for ‘Agni Pareeksha‘ (vote of confidence’) and Seetha apaharana (kidnapping), Indra thought Vikasa Soudha was the right place to combine the various talents of the members of the Vidhana Soudha.

With the architect-in-chief of the devas, Vishwakarma, beside him, it did not take long for Indra to put his vision into practice. Once Indra briefed him on what he wanted, in two minutes’ time Vishwakarma got the blueprint for the new Vikasa Soudha ready with all its new features.

1. The roof of the building was converted into a helipad to transport ‘loyal’ as well as ‘rebel’ MLAs to whichever resorts the respective high commands decided. Naturally, a fleet of helicopters was in ready attendance, bought from the budget allotted for flood relief operations in North Karnataka.

2. The Emme Les thought it was unwise to spend tax-payers’ money by running to resorts at the drop of an ‘Agni Pareeksha’. So, the second floor was turned into a swimming pool with all the stress-busting massages that the resorts provided. ‘Soma Rasa’ ‘Tarra’,  ‘Desi’, ‘Videshi’ maals were available on tap with a 24×7 kitchen.

3. Sound-proof cubicles were available for parlays between Appa–Magaa, Anna–ThammaAppa- Maga-Thamma, boss-girl friend, mining mother and sons . Those who paid double the tariff could get their conversations recorded into ready-to-transmit “sting operations” for TV9.

4. One floor was converted into a fake ICU with fake doctors, fake blood, fake medical equipment, fake treadmill, fake reports, but with real nurses, for Emme Le or ministers caught red-handed in rape, notification/ denotification, recruitment scams, land scams or benami transactions.

5. Underground safety deposit vaults were now available for the convenience of the parties and the Emme Les. However, the minimum deposit was Rs 25 crore.

6. Black magic and voodoo being the backbone of any ‘Agni Pareeksha’, facilities for homas, pujas, vamaachar were available on number 106 by room service. For a fee, the Emme Les can have a virtual darshan of gods and goddesses in Tamil Nadu or donate an elephant to a temple in Kerala. All the raw material for the maata-mantra such as bangles, pins to pierce dolls, kumkuma, haladi and blood of sheep, pig or cat will be made available for the puja between midnight and 3 am.

7. If the Emme Les were kidnapped either by the ruling party or the opposition, the new structure would have swamijis of various mutts on call to deliver discourses on ‘Sita Apaharana’ till the person is found or the case is abandoned whichever is earlier.

8. Eme Les kept in separate cow-sheds or horse- sheds and will be openly auctioned by the marshals of the assembly and sold to the highest bidder. ‘Boosa’, ‘ mamool’ ‘chai paani’ will be made available at the shed  itself for the animal thus being auctioned.

9. Kiosks of the various mobile companies will be set up on each floor for the convenience of the Emme Les to keep in touch with their bosses/suitors.

10. A high-speed underground passage  would be constructed to the Raj Bhavan so that traffic is not disrupted each time the Emme Les have to report to or seek guidance of the honourable governor.


After a year when they visited the site again, both Indra and Vishwakarma found  the place bursting at seams in all the floors. Vikas Soudha, now renamed Vinasha Soudha, had truly come of age with its own brand of politics.

Nothing is what it seems when scoundrels meet

11 October 2010

Indian politicians, cutting across party lines, cutting across States, have two, standard quotable quotes for the camera. One, “nothing is impossible in politics”. And two, “there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies”.

Ordinary, law-abiding citizens who have something called self-respect and self-esteem cringe when they hear such cliches but they know that this is just shorthand for the extremely malleable disposition that modern politicians are blessed with.

These pictures are proof.

For years now, Karnataka’s politics has been held hostage to the Holenarsipur-Ramanagaram-Kanakapura worldview of H.D. Deve Gowda and his sons, H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna. And the Bellary worldview of the Reddy siblings and their bumchum, B. Sreeramulu.

There is nothing the two sides have not done to throw mud and muck at each other.

And for a week now, an entire nation has watched agape as Karnataka’s reputation for decency, honesty and civility has been made mincemeat in the clash of the two worldviews, that manifested itself with the latest “rebellion” against the B.S. Yediyurappa regime last week.

On Judgement Day Monday, as the BJP’s members trooped out of the Vidhana Soudha after the “voice-vote” in favour of the BJP regime, guess who shook hands and pressed flesh like long-lost friends, and whispered sweet-nothings like lovers into each other’s ears in the full glare of the cameras?

Photographs: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: Why Karnataka politics has reached this sorry state

History repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce

‘BJP has taken Karnataka politics to the bottom’

Getaway of the Louts in the Gateway to the South

CHURUMURI POLL: Dismiss BJP govt in Karnataka?

How China changed the politics of Karnataka

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

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

GOOD NEWS: Karnataka beats AP, TN, Kerala

Why Karnataka politics has reached this sad state

8 October 2010

KIRAN RAO BATNI writes: The now out-in-the-open fissiparous tendencies  in Karnataka’s BJP government can make anybody question whether State politics in Karnataka can ever rise above corruption, in-fighting, inefficiency, ignorance and mindless stone-throwing.

There are two inter-related reasons for this mess, each reinforcing the other in a vicious cycle: one, the presence of lower-calibre politicians at the State level; and two, the relative unimportance of State-politics due to half-hearted federalism.

The high-decibel noise of empty vessels: A basic problem with the politics of Karnataka is that the politicians themselves are often of too low a calibre—often uneducated, corrupt and ignorant. Such politicians in the Vidhana Soudha repel higher-calibre people (who just can’t match up to their level of corruption to even get elected) and attract even lower-calibre ones.

Not just electoral candidates, but even the general public is repelled from state-level politics because of the bad name which the low-calibre politicians of Karnataka have brought to State-level politics.

Admittedly, State-level politics is more “hands-on” into the dirty mess of casteism and mindless largesses to a population which should ideally be better educated and taught to work instead of expecting those largesses.

Karnataka’s politicians have been unable to solve these issues to anybody’s satisfaction, basically because they lack the necessary grey-cells for doing so. Instead of solving these issues, the inability and ignorance of our politicians makes them exploit the issues to water their own vested interests.

And of course, amidst all the high-decibel noise created by the empty vessels that Karnataka’s politicians are, governance has taken the back-seat. The little that the Karnataka government has control over is also mishandled by our low-calibre politicians.

With this being the performance of Karnataka governments right from 1956, hearing the word “State-politics” mentioned itself has started to become a nauseating experience.

Karnataka should look to Gujarat: True federalism is the right way for India to progress, since New Delhi simply cannot run a country which has more than a billion people if it continues to poke its nose into state-level issues. New Delhi can never understand the importance of Kannada in Karnataka, or the way in which Kannadigas can progress, or what projects need to be undertaken for Karnataka to progress.

For the record, New Delhi does not speak Kannada (there are many in New Delhi who can’t tell if Kannada is a language or a country in North America), and therefore can never run Karnataka to any degree of satisfaction. Nor should it, for that would be not much different from the British ruling Karnataka – a state of slavery where Kannadigas are ruled by non-Kannadigas.

Given this, while the importance of Karnataka’s politics is implicit, the half-hearted federalism in India does not explicitly grant that importance to it.

Over and above this, the nauseating State-politics of Karnataka makes one come to the utterly wrong conclusion that New Delhi is better than Bangalore when it comes to governing Karnataka. That is a disastrous feeling which is doing its rounds in the intelligentsia, and must as such be removed.

While the State-politics of Karnataka is admittedly nauseating, states like Gujarat have retained the sanctity of State-level politics by giving better governance, better utilisation of State funds, encouragement given to investments and business, etc.

Gujarat is not just the media babe of India, but a true example of what good leadership and high-calibre politicians can do to the very image of state-politics and federalism itself.

Today, while Gujarat is an example of a responsible state which further affirms that true federalism is the way to go, Karnataka brings down the case for true federalism because of its irresponsible, corrupt and non-delivering politicians.

It is high time our own politicians grow up, stop being those empty vessels, develop some grey-cells and start delivering like the politicians in Gujarat.

Unimportance waters low-calibre: Why is it that we see less corruption, in-fighting, inefficiency, ignorance and mindless stone-throwing at the central government? Is it that we just don’t get to see similar behavior (when it’s present in reality)? No, it would be wrong to say so.

Admittedly, politicians at the Centre are of a higher-calibre than at the State-level. Why is that?

The main reason is that central politics is of relative higher importance. It’s simply a better job with better challenges with better people around. The most important portfolios are held by the Centre, many of which are nonsensically so held.

For example, the States are left with virtually no revenue to run their states, while the Centre gets a disproportionately large revenue for the little work that it does. One often sees highly productive states beg the Centre for their own rightful share of central budgetary allocations.

Karnataka, perhaps, stands foremost among States which are so cheated.

The presence of lower-calibre politicians at the state level and the relative unimportance of state-politics due to half-hearted federalism have together resulted in a major degradation in the quality ofSstate-politics in Karnataka. Unimportance waters low-calibre, and low-calibre waters unimportance.

The way out of this mess is to have more power to the States and simultaneously for our politicians to grow up.

(An earlier version of this piece was first published in June 2009)

Photograph: The east gate of the seat of power in Karnataka, the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore, closed on Thursday due to a government holiday (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: History repeats itself: first as tragedy then as farce

‘BJP has taken Karnataka politics to the bottom’

Gauri Lankesh: Is Karnataka the Gujarat of the South?

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

One foot on the ground and one foot in the air

7 October 2010

On the day his own MLAs and ministers pulled the carpet from under his feet, prompting the governor to call for a trust vote by October 12, chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa leaves the Vidhana Soudha after a cabinet meeting in Bangalore on Wednesday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Three years in power = three rings. Or is it four?

3 October 2010

In a week in which more scams tumbled out of the BJP’s “Gateway to the South” than the number of rings on his dainty fingers, an always-athletic chief minister takes the first few steps at the start of a wildlife week jatha organised by the forest department, in front of the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Sunday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News


The B.S. Yediyurappa photo portfolio

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

2) One leg in the chair, two eyes on the chair

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

4) Kissa Karnataka chief minister’s kursi ka: Part IV

5) Why did the chief minister cross the road divider?

6) Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down

7) Dressed to thrill: Yedi-Chini bhai bhai in Shanghai

8) Survival of fittest is a great photo opportunity

9) Drought relief one day, flood relief the next

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

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

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

13) Yediyurappa regime slips into yet another sandal

14) Behind every successful cyclist, there are a few men

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

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

17) The emperor’s new clothes has a loose button

18) Why does this poor, selfless soldier cry so much?

19) The great Indian rope trick adds inches to a giant

20) Even Alan Donald would quiver at such a glare

21) One sanna step for man, one giant leap for anna

22) A party of loafers, thieves, liars and land-grabbers