With Karnataka Elections in next few days, we present to our readers, a series tailored specifically for people who are interested in all the required information regarding this election. Mahesh Gajabar writes for you explaining why Karnataka is different and how their politics works since the early days. Readers are advised to draw their own conclusions from Author’s views. Here comes the first part of ‘Unfolding Karnataka’ Series, briefly laying out the background of today’s battle.
Karnataka assembly elections 2018 has got more prominence in Indian politics for many reasons. This is the only major big state where congress is in ruling currently and they have a challenge to keep it. Winning this state can boost moral confidence of congress for upcoming assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, which is considered as semifinal before 2019 parliamentary elections. Meanwhile BJP has also same challenge of winning this state back again, to expand their base in southern part of India.
Karnataka has a tradition of choosing different parties in state and union from 1983. In 1983 Karnataka got its first non-congress party Government (Janata party) under the leadership of HD Devegowda and Ramakrishna Hegde due to many agitations in state against then ruling congress government under the leadership of Gundurao. Though Janata party won the elections and formed government with the support of BJP they lost miserably to the congress in parliamentary elections held in 1984. These results hurt the then CM Ramakrishna Hegde who decided to dissolve and go for fresh mandate. Surprisingly they returned with majority in 1985 assembly elections. Such scenarios continued till now barring few years. Party which rules Karnataka is/was not in ruling position at central at the same time.
In last 40 years no chief minister had completed 5 years full term after Devaraj Urs(Aras) who ruled 9 years continuously till 1979. SM Krishna had the chance of completing 5 years in 2004 but he chosen to dissolve assembly 6 months before. Elections were held along with Lokasabha elections held during that time. Siddararamayya completed full 5 years term.
It is also interesting to note that no other party won successively after 1985 beating anti incumbency. Janata party after winning 1985 elections had internal fights and saw 2 chief ministers. Due to instability of government president rule was imposed in the state. Which was later termed as illegal by supreme court which is popularly known as Bommai case (SR Bommai was then CM before president rule was imposed). This case verdict became the bench mark. After that every president rule imposition discussions in any state was taken reference to that verdict. Congress won the 1989 elections with thumping majority under the leadership of Veerendra Patil a strong Lingayat leader winning 178 out of 224. He was removed after couple years citing health issues. Rajiv Gandhi signed a letter of his removal at an airport. Later congress saw two chief ministers Namely popular OBC leader Bangarappa who was removed after computer graft case and puffet CM Veerappa Moily. Bangarappa built a new party and took an oath to destroy congress. In 1994 elections United Janata party, renamed as Janata dal, won the state with simple majority. This election is historical in Karnataka because BJP rose to high level and won 39 seats and got principal opposition party position, while incumbent congress was pushed to third place with just 38 seats. Bangarappa’s party dented congress in many seats and won 10 seats. Janata dal won under the leadeship of Devegowda and Ramakrsihna Hedage once again and HD Devegowda became the chief minister. Who also incidentally became prime minister in 1996 and vacated CM post to JH Patel.
Once HDD came back to Karnataka after stepping down as PM many differences arose between his faction lead by then Deputy CM Siddaramaih and CM JH Patel group faction. These differences lead to dividing party into 2 parties namely JDS(Janata Dal secular) lead by Devegowda and Siddaramaiyya and JDU(Janata dal united) lead by JH Patel and Hegade. They dissolved assembly 6 months before. in 1999 assembly elections were held along with Lokasabha and MH,AP assembly elections. JDU tied up with BJP. Congress on other hand became united under SM Krishna. in a triangular fight Congress got thumbing majority of 132 seats. JDS pushed to 10 seats & JDU won just 19 seats. BJP got 44 seats. Many starwalts lost including JH patel, Siddu, Yediyurappa , Devegowda & Sons. In 2004 again assembly dissolved 6 months before and elections were held along with Lokasabha. With the death of Hegade and JH Patel JDU left with no major leader hence 75% of that Party migrated to BJP and rest 25% to JDS. BJP under the leadership of Yadiyurappa who was known as one of the best opposition party leader in Karnataka history became famous farmer leader & mass leader. He single handedly built the party from 1983 and made party to win 18 MP seats out of 28 and 80 MLA seats. Congress won 65 and JDS won 58. 113 is the magic number for majority but none had achieved it. JDS supremo Devegowda chosen to go with congress and made congress to chose dummy CM Dharam singh a Rajput with no caste holding and no mass base but won 9 times MLA. Siddaramayya of JDS became Deputy CM. Siddu angry over not asking for CM post to party started building AHINDA(Alpa sankhyat(minority)+Hindulida(OBC)+Dalit). He himself belongs to largest OBC caste Kuruba(Dhangar) which form 7% of total Karnataka population and third large caste after Lingayats and Vakkaligas. Angry over his movements Devegowda removed him from DCM post and installed senior most Humble Lingayat leader MP Prakash in his place. Meanwhile HD Kumarswamy was secretely planning for something and after some time hijacked party and made deal with BJP. That is popularly known as 20-20 formula. 20 months CM post for JDS and remaining 20 months to BJP. Hence Kumarswamy became CM & Yadiyurappa became DCM. Meanwhile Siddu joined congress & won by-poll by just 257 votes.
But after 20 months JDS denied a CM post to BJP due to many reasons. There was rise of Reddy brothers and their friend Sri Ramulu in mining field. They were backed by Sushma Swaraj. They helped her lot during her contest against Sonia Gandhi in 1999 in Ballari.
They made 150 crore bribe allegation against Kumarswamy. Irking Devegowda denied power to BJP. In heated talks they made some comments on Lingayats also. Yadiyurappa made that as an issue and power denial also as an issue. He suddenly emerged as Linagayat leader from farmer leader. Using sympathy wave,Lingayat factor and Reddys money power BJP got 110 seats in 2008. It had 38 Lingayat MLA’a and 36 SC/ST MLA’s. Just 3 short of Majority. Reddy brothers within few hours of results announced, arranged 5 independents and offered them minister post for all. After coming to power also they did more than 15 MLA’s poaching from cong & JDS i.e operation lotus. They taken care of all by-poll expenses of these candidates & made sure their victory. Also stabilized government numerically & ditched all those 5 independents. But they tortured CM Yediyurappa on many things and hijacked party to resorts many times. There were many in-fighting’s. For all their deeds they were strongly backed by Sushma amma at Delhi. She even said that they are their adopted sons. Lokayukta in its report on mining scam indicted then CM Yediyurappa, Kumarswamy and Reddy gang. After that Yediyurappa has to step down from CM post. After him BJP saw two more CM’s in remaining two years with full in stability in Goverment. Irked Yediyurappa built his own party KJP.
Reddy gang lead by Sri Ramulu built BSR Congress party. Both these parties specially KJP dented chances of BJP in many seats. KJP strongly backed by Lingayats won just 6 but came second in 38 seats. Just by 250 votes to within 2k votes they lost 27 seats. Most of them were Lingayat candidates. BJP pushed to third place with 40 seats. JDS Also got 40 seats with little .5% higher vote share than BJP. United congress won 122 seats and got back Lingayats supports in big number. 30 were Lingayat MLA’s out of 122. 35 were SC/ST MLA’s.
– To be Continued –
(Mahesh Gajabar contributed to this article in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Netive.in.)