A politically turbulent year for Karnataka

BS Yeddyurappa
Bangalore, Dec 19: 2011 turned out to be a year of "trial" and "turbulence" for leaders of all parties in Karnataka as scams tumbled out of their cupboards and a chief minister had to be ousted from office on corruption charges, a first of its kind in the annals of the state.

The series of corruption charges that engulfed leaders of ruling as well as Opposition parties not only kept Karnataka in the headlines, but also led to the state earning the tag of one of the "most" corrupt ones.

The state also witnessed confrontation between the BJP government and Governor H R Bhardwaj on a host of issues including on the issue of dismissal of the saffron party government, appointment of a Lokayukta and an aborted "oath-taking" challenge between Yeddyurappa and JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy.

The political clan almost set up a race to march to courts and some of them including former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa landed behind bars for a brief spell, which dented their own image and also that of the political party they belonged to.

The 'jail yatra' that began from former minister Katta Subramanaya Naidu, his corporator son Jagadish on charges of land scam, soon dragged Yeddyurappa, former ministers Gali Janardhana Reddy and S N Krishnaiah Setty, causing a severe embarrassment to the BJP in its fight against corruption at the national level.

More trouble was in store for BJP, which was already feeling the heat after the arrest of some of its leaders, when private complaints alleging land scams hit the state's Minister for Home R Ashoka, Housing Minister V Somanna, Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, apart from ruling MLAs like S Muniraju and S R Vishwanath.

The final report of the Lokayukta into the illegal mining submitted on July 27 by Santosh Hegde set off a political storm in the state as it severely indicted Yeddyurappa. The saffron brigade in Delhi acted swiftly and asked him to quit office.

Yeddyurappa, the lingayat community strongman and also one of the architects of installing the first BJP government in the south, shed his initial defiance and bowed to the orders of his party high command on July 31, paving way for change of guard in the state, but not before declaring that he would return to the lost throne within six months.

It was the worst year in their political careers for three Bellary ministers including Reddy brothers, who had been hitherto dictating the BJP, the Yeddyurappa government and also controlled entire mining operations in the state.

The CBI probe into illegal mining in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, sucked Janardhana Reddy, who was arrested on September 5 along with his brother-in-law B V Srinivasa Reddy and sent to a judicial custody in Hyderabad.

The saffron party which distanced from Reddy was in for a severe shock, when a Lokayukta court ordered for the arrest of Yeddyurappa and Krishnaiah Setty on October 15.

Yeddyurappa walked to freedom after spending 25 days in jail when the high court granted him bail.

A "oath taking challenge" hurled by Yeddyurappa at his political bete-noire Kumaraswamy provided thriller moments to people of the state, but they were disappointed when the event was dropped.

Yeddyurappa, who has been fuming at the JDS leader for battering him with charges of corruption, dared Kumaraswamy to "swear" before lord Manjunatha at the temple town of Dharamasthala on his allegations and set July 27 as date for it.

Kumaraswamy readily accepted and landed at the temple on the fixed date and time. But Yeddyurappa chose to abandon the "oath taking".

The Opposition Congress and the JDS which had raised a hue and cry over corruption by BJP leaders, were themselves caught in the same web when private complaints were filed against External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, N Dharam Singh of Congress, H D Kumaraswamy of JDS and his brother H D Balakrishne Gowda.

The year saw an apparently bruised BJP axing a defiant Yeddyurappa and replacing him by its Udupi-Chikmagalur MP D V Sadananda Gowda.

Even as political leaders stood in the witness box facing scams, a celebrity from the Kannada tinsel world gained notoriety for wife beating and had to go behind bars.

Popular Kannada star Darshan was arrested on a complaint by his wife that she was tortured.

Two former judges were also in the news.

While retired Supreme Court judge Shivaraj Patil had to quit the office of Lokayukta, a month-and-a-half after assuming office in the face of allegations of securing allotment of a residential site in his wife's name in violation of rules, former chief justice of Kerala High Court S R Bannurmath, could not make it as the governor rejected his name after he too faced allegations of getting a site allotted in violation of rules.

The continued tiff between the government and the Governor resurfaced when Bhardwaj abandoned his address to the joint session of the legislature on January 6.

The tension escalated when Bhardwaj accorded sanction to prosecute Yeddyurappa on January 21, an exercise which culminated in filing of five private complaints against the chief minister by Sirajin Basha and K N Balraj.


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