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Karnataka: Swarthameva Jayate

“Politics make strange bedfellows’, is quite a common phrase to describe odd, unexpected alliances and agreements caused for a shared political interest. These days the literal meaning of such saying can be evinced in the state of Karnataka. Just three weeks remain for the 10 May 2023 general elections to the state Assembly while political scenario continues to remain murkier every passing day with no signs of the situation changing for better. Every day you hear about politicians with a variety of hues embracing some other color, which they had been fighting tooth and nail all along in their political innings. Well, that is the traumatic condition the state polls have stooped to!

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Unanimity among all parties: Interestingly, the tendency of peoples’ representatives changing sides overnight is not just restricted to either the ruling or major opposition parties alone. In fact, there has been unanimity in every other party in neither adhering to this unwritten norm when personal interests, family concerns and political fortunes are at stake, forgetting any ideological differences, welfare of the constituency nor safeguarding the genuine rights of people. “Satyameva Jayate” Sanskrit word meaning “Truth alone triumphs” is part of a mantra from the Hindu scripture Mundaka Upanishad. This oft repeated line on public platforms is found only on the coins and on the notes of the Indian currency in a negligible way! As, the coins have lost their value and relevancy over a period of time in the independent India, perhaps so has been the significance of the saying and paving way for “Swarthameva Jayate” or ‘Self-interests alone triumph”.

Dissent begins with Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S):
Among the three major parties of the state, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC) and the regional Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), it was the JD-S, which declared its first list of candidates. Congress came second to be followed by the BJP. Initially, not much noise was heard when the Janata Dal cleared names for 93 constituencies. It was much before the formal disclosure of lists by the Congress and BJP; the trouble began to erupt in public. SR Srinivas, four times JD-S MLA from Gubbi constituency quit the JD-S to join Congress. So did KM Shivalingegowda, JD-S MLA for two consecutive terms from Arasikere constituency in the same Tumakuru district. AT Ramaswamy, four times JD-S MLA from Arakalgud constituency in Hassan, a Gowda strong belt, joined the BJP. YSV Datta, former JD-S MLC and one time MLA from Kadur constituency in Chikkamagalur district crossed over to the Congress with a hope of being nominated to contest. He had to bid adieu to the party as Congress didn’t consider him for the candidature and now has returned to the JD-S after being assured of the ticket.

Congress aspirants join BJP, JD-S: The mood was no way better when the Congress announced its lists, one by one with intermittent intervals. Following denial of nomination to contest, several strong contenders were gifted with the BJP and JD-S tickets. It appeared JD-S was keenly waiting for the BJP, Congress lists to be out so that it could have real candidates in some of the constituencies. In this way, the old Mysuru region dominated regional party could also boast of contenders elsewhere across the state.

BJP gets a jolt: However, refusal of the tickets to some prominent leaders to contest gave a jolt to the ruling BJP. Lakshman Savadi, a prominent Ganiga-Lingayat community leader was deprived to contest from Athani in Belagavi district. He had been elected from there thrice in 2004, 2008 and 2013 and lost to Mahesh Kumatalli of the Congress in 2018. Yet, he was made an MLC and Deputy Chief Minister in 2019 for his role in pulling down the JDS-Congress government through defections. Now, he is out and a Congress candidate from his Athani home constituency…

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…Jagadish Shettar, former BJP chief minister parted ways with the party to join Congress. His family had been with the party since Bharatiya Jana Sangha days. He was made the Assembly Speaker, Minister and Chief Minister. He again became a Minister in BS Yediyurappa cabinet but refused to join Basavaraj Bommai’s ministry. A few years back, even his brother Pradeep Shettar was given ticket to contest the Assembly elections. After losing in the same, he was made a MLC. According to BJP sources, he was also tipped of being given a ticket to his wife, apart from being made a Union Minister and Governor later. But, he was bent upon contesting for the Hubballi-Dharwad Central Assembly constituency and preferred to embrace Congress, which he had been opposing all along in his political career so far.

BSY challenges win in both constituencies:
BS Yediyurappa, former chief minister deploring the change of stance of former DCM and CM has dared to ensure victory to the party candidates in Athani and Hubballi-Dharwad-“Both, Lakshman Savadi and Jagadish Shettar have ditched the party even after being benefitted from the latter. I will tour extensively in both these constituencies to see that BJP candidates will emerge victorious”.

Why then KJP? In his rebuttal Jagadish Shettar has hit back at BS Yediyurappa, alleging-“Even you were given all positions by the party. Still, why did you float the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP)? Toeing the same line Lakshman Savadi went a step ahead to claim-“BS Yediyurappa has the unique distinction of drowning the party and has no moral right to talk about me and Jagadish Shettar”.

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Implement party policies and programs: It’s an incident which took place a few years back when Jagadish Shettar took over as the chief minister. The media sought to know his plans, programs and visions, he had replied-“I will implement party policies and programs”! The Hubballi-Dharwad Bus Rapid System (HDBRTS) project with a length of 22 kilometers took more than six years to complete for repeated tender. You all know why projects are retendered?

Bala Vikas Academy Chairman ousted: A National Youth Project (NYP) national integration camp was being held at Dharwad when Jagadish Shettar was the chief minister. Late SN Subbarao, a towering persona of the real Gandhian era was the motivating spirit for thousands of youths who had come from nook and corner of the country. The camp was being organized by the Karnataka Bala Vikas Academy headed by Shankar Halagatti. When the camp was midway, Shankar Halagatti was unceremoniously stripped from the position to make way for a party man Mahesh Tenginakai (now his rival BJP candidate), leaving thousands of children in lurch. His native constituency people will give you a big list of assets; he has made over a period of time. Yet, he professes of a being an honest person with no black spot in his political career so far.

2003 repeats after 23 years: YG Jagadish, Political Bureau Chief of Prajavani Kannada daily opines-“The present predicament is a repeat performance of the developments in 2003. Late HN Ananthkumar, soon after becoming state BJP president was gearing up the party for 2004 Assembly elections. By then he had carved a niche in national politics but was aiming to handle the mantle in home state. An alarm was raised then that Lingayats were being neglected in the party. As fallout, Vijay Sankeshwar, three times Lok Sabha MP, Transport and Media baron walked out of the party to float his own ‘Kannada Nadu’. So quit Ayanoor Manjunath to join liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who had bought ‘Janata Party’. But when BJP won 79 seats, HN Ananthkumar returned permanently to national politics. Now both, BL Santosh and Prahlad Joshi are aiming to become CM and are trying everything possible to sideline, humiliate and pack off Lingayat contenders”.

-Manohar Yadavatti


  1. Cheif Minister position should not be restricted or projected as dhramapeetha of Lingayats or Gaudas or even Brahmins. What we need in Karnataka is growth oriented CM who should have vision to develop Karnataka other than Bangalore or old Mysore region. Narendra Modi's community population in Gujarat is less than 5%. Patel dominated Gujrat politics with money and muscle power but development vision of Modi not concentrated to one region. So he ruled Gujarat for 13 years even Patels supported him. What we need in Karnataka is visionary leaders who will not speak about caste but speak about development.


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