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Karnataka Election: Another Assault on Indian Democracy


(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura*)

The cat is out of the bag. The results of the elections held on May 12, 2018 to the Karnataka Assembly were announced on 15th May, 2018. It is a fractured verdict which means ample scope for horse trading. All the three major shareholders in the spoil did not spare their efforts. One political analyst said: “It is true of Modi and his persona.  Modi has outwitted Indira Gandhi”. He made History to forget her. Though the pattern is different,  Karnataka is repetition of Goa, Meghalaya and Manipur to the extent that: “Politics is an art of the possible”, as the BJP leaders commented. Many precedents and conventions were recalled, quoted and represented. But ultimately Bengaluru Raj Bhavan  listened and followed Delhi. And the ‘Coup’ succeeded. When Vajubhai Vala, the Governor of Karnataka invited B.S.Yedyurappa to form the Govt, and the latter, in post haste was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, at an auspicious time, 9.00 a.m. on May, 17,2018. Governor was gracious and liberal to award him 15 days time to prove his majority on the floor of the House. Marathan midnight three and half hours Session in the Supreme Court (SC) did not give any reprieve to the Congress and JDS combine.  However it cut short the time to prove the majority to 55 hours; By 4.00 p.m. on Saturday, May, 19th, 2018. Hence the Judiciary deserves highest compliments.

All these developments prove beyond pre-ponderable doubt that the present set up in Delhi is NO better than the Congress.  It is a shame, that after sixty eight years of democracy, Members of the Legislative Assembly are auctioned in public as purchasable commodities. Like the Members of the Panchayat board and Municipal council they are taken to “Camps” to luxurious resorts and lodges for ‘safety.’  This is an ugly situation.  If Yeddyurappa’s son Vijayendra and his confident Shobha Karandlaje were given tickets, it is whispered that it could have fetched the required simple majority to the BJP.

Karnataka BJP and Yedyurappa could not live up to the expectations of Delhi and the Governor to muster strength. Sensing that he could not muster majority, Yeddyurappa resigned on May, 19,2018. Advani, Joshi, Simha and other stalwarts of the BJP are discarded due to age factor. Yeddyurappa was born on born 27 February 1943; 75 years old. What ground weighed with him? Lingayat Votes? If BJP were to be silent, Congress-JDS combine could not have formed the Ministry!! They would have quarreled among themselves in the selection of the candidates and distribution of the portfolios.  Disappointed and disgruntled elements would have discovered measures to switch over the loyalty.   If one third of the members of any recognized political party form a separate group and ally with another with another group, it does not attract Anti Defection Law. JDS has 37 members. If 12 or 13 of them breakaway and join hands with the BJP, Congress-JDS combine is finished. At any rate, there is no signs of the Congress-JDS combine lasting for a long period, leave alone the full five years term.

Congratulations to those who won and sympathies to the losers. Do they really deserve felicitations? They are not victorious. All the stakeholders, including the so called elite electorate vanquished the Democracy. Lowest, less than 50%, polling was recorded in Bengaluru Urban Dist. It is not an ordinary election. No general election or a mid-term poll for any State Assembly would have evoked so much of interest among the people and exhibited the magnitude of ill will and bias among the Political Parties. Mutual accusation, calling by name and personal vilification witnessed in the election has never been seen before. Prime Minister addressed 21 rallies. Amit Shaw, Rahul Gandhi, Central Ministers, former Prime Ministers and Ex and present Chief Ministers from various states camped here for more than a month.  Everyone, with a competitive spirit overstepped the other in leveling down.

I was a lad of 12 years in 1952 during the first general elections. I have vivid memories of the elections. Sukumar Sen the first Chief Election Commissioner was not inclined to conduct the elections so early, within two years of the commencement of the Constitution, But Nehru insisted on an early poll. There were no precedents.   India had around 173 million voters, out of an overall population of about 360 million; more than 80% illiterates.  Polling was held between 25 October 1951 and 27 March 1952. Voter turnout was 45.7%.  It was a feather in the cap of Sukumar Sen. By and large it was a peaceful affair and he conducted 1957 elections also.  Creditable performance by the Infant Largest Democracy was awe inspiring for the whole world and it was almost unbelievable. It was so surprised that Cartoons, Sarcasm and Satire were freely published in the renowned foreign journals about the magic power India believed and exercised.

Sreenivasa Mallya

My ancestral Village, Kurady, was in Brahmavar Assembly and Udupi Parliamentary Constituencies in Udupi Taluk, South Kanara District of Madras State. Jagajjeevandas Shetty, the Congress candidate was moving in his Landmaster Car.   Kolkebail Sanjeeva Shetty @ S.S.Kolekbail from Praja Socialist Party (PSP), visiting every home by walk, was the opponent. Both were freedom fighters.  Veteran freedom fighter and general secretary, AICC,  U.Srinivasa  Mallya, a confident of Nehru, a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Interim Parliament was the Congress Candidate for the Udupi Lok Sabha. He was campaigning in a car. I do not remember the name of the opposition candidate to the Lok Sanbha. He was touring the Constituency in a jeep.  S.S.Kolekbail and U.Srinivasa  Mallya  emerged victorious, respectively to the Assembly and Lok Sabha.  After the States’ reorganization in 1956, South Kanara was renamed Daskhina Kannada and merged with Mysore. (present Karnataka).

EMS Namboodripad
Morarji Desai

I was in my SSLC class in the same village and the same candidates were in the fray from their constituencies. I exercised my franchise for the first time in 1962 at Udupi and in 1967 at Bangalore. Till then electioneering used to be a fairly fair affair. Few candidates were moving in cars, mostly rented and many canvassing by walk from dawn to late night.  Meetings with the candidates and the local leaders were being arranged and pamphlets distributed, detailing their achievements and opponents’ failures. Paid workers were unknown. In all the first three general elections, 1951-’52, 1957 and 1962, Nehru visited almost all the Districts in the Country.  Narayana Kille in Karnataka and P.V.Narsimha Rao in A.P. were translating his English speeches to Kannada and Telugu respectively. There was enough time as the Elections were spread over months. There were very few Airports and the Helicopter Culture had not yet dawned. Begumpet, Hyderabad was the only civilian Airport in A.P. and Bengaluru and Mangaluru in Mysore @ Karnataka.  Nehru was moving in (Special) Trains and cars; within the Towns and Cities in open top jeeps, waving to the cheering crowds.  From in and around the Districts the people used to flock to see and hear him.  Few more national and state leaders used to address public meetings in important Taluk Centres. Some of the Prominent leaders, whom I heard were:  Rajaji, Kamaraj, Ashok Mehta, Namboodaripad, Tarimala Nagi Reddy, Morarji Desai, Dmodaram Sanjeevaiah, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and S.Nijalingappa;  later during the seventies, Indira Gandhi and P.V.Narasimha Rao.

They were all stalwarts. Most of them were participants in the National Movement.  Patriotism was flowing in their veins. Well informed and knowledgeable, with perfect homework, without repeating the subjects they used to reel out statistics and facts either to narrate the achievements or highlight the failures. Without referring to any notes, they were stressing the local issues too; in fact starting with it.  Even by the local leaders, character assassination was unheard of. On the other hand good qualities of the opposition candidates were brought to the notice of the electorate. “But he is a Congress/ Communist/ Socialist candidate. The Party has no program and policies, except opposing our Party. Hence do not cast your vote in his favour.”  It is not that all the candidates were noble gentlemen.  Just as there is handful of good candidates now, then also there were exceptionally bad elements.   Since then I have been observing and from 1962 onwards. From 1971 onward I have been casting my vote in Kurnool and canvassing n every elections held in the Country.  A sideline: I was the Chairman of the Reception Committee for the Congress Party in the by-election to the Nandyal Lok Sabha Seat in Nov. 1991 wherein P.V.Narasimha Rao, the P.M. was the Candidate. Standard of electioneering has been deteriorating.

To consolidate her position Indira Gandhi declaring her “Unshakable faith in the power of the people”, on Dec., 27,1970, announced the dissolution of the 4th Lok Sabha  and the mid-term poll. Elections were held in Feb. – Mar. 1971 to the 5th Lok Sabha. Congress, Indira and Sanjay were defeated.  Deterioration had crept in, in that elections and started moving with more speed from election to election. However Indira had some appealing slogans. e.g.”They say; Indira Hatao. I say; Garibi Hatao.” Dissent and criticism was considered by her as “obstacles and hindrances.”  Forces behind her, notably the group known as ‘Young Turks’ was harsh in suppressing the opposition to her, either within the Congress or outside.  She did not spare anyone while exercising the power, as she willed. One rare quality in her was ‘no space for tell tale.’ There is no doubt about her dictatorial attitude and subverted all democratic institutions underneath “The Institution of Prime Minister.” She faced ups and downs and ultimately fell a victim to her own bodyguard’s bullet.

Whichever party in power and whoever may be in the opposition, 21st Century is witnessing degeneration in electioneering. Even the National leaders are discussing more about personalities than principles and program.  Worst aspect is the lack of grace in accepting the peoples’ verdict. Both parties continue tirade and trade charges of money power and abuse of authority.  It is not a healthy sign in a democracy.  What a contrast!!

Tarimela Nagireddy

In democratic election, acrimonious debates and healthy discussions are the order.   Instead the Karnataka election created history by generating any amount of ill will and bias and animosity and malice. No other elections to any State Assembly witnessed such debased campaigning. Prime Minister, Former Prime Ministers, Presidents of National Parties, Ex/Chief Ministers of other states and Central Ministers camped for months together in the State. Sidelining policies and programme, major agenda was personal vilification. Naked portraits of the personalities were transparently discussed.

Thanks to Rajiv Gandhi and Sam Pitroda for revolution in communication. Much of the spoil sport was played by the Social Media.  Unprintable epithets were attributed and communicated about the National Leaders; dead and alive.  illegal relationships were concocted. Maternity is a fact. Paternity is a matter of faith. As we respect the chastity of our mothers, we are born to our fathers. Hindu Dharma endows sanctity to motherhood.  The very Hindutwa Forces have been weaving the stories of illegitimacy of certain famous political families, particularity the Nehru Family.  Do the tenets of Hindu Dharma allow them?

Every leader of the BJP and allies starts his utterance: “Congress has misruled the country for seven decades and country has become bankrupt.”   What was the food production and percentage of population that was eating rice and wheat in 1947? In 1951, when the First Five Year Plan was launched food production was about 50 million tons. Now it is nearing 300 million tons. It was made possible because of the Bakra Nangal, Hirakud, Damodar Valley Project, Nagarjuna Sagar, Srisailam. etc. When were they built? Likewise per capita consumption of electricity, percentage of literacy, doctor-population ratio, etc.has increased remarkably.  I am pained to hear the products of the post independent academic institutions,  IITs, NITs, AIIMS, GIPMER, PGI, earning millions of dollars, sitting in cozy comforts of a foreign land, condemning Nehru. Was Chandrayan launched in months? India was emerged a Nuclear Power for peace. Pokhram Nuclear Test was conducted in 1974 and 1998. So many Public Sector Undertakings were set up during the 1960 s and 70 s.  From Homi Baba, Vikram Sarabai and A.S.Rao to APJ Abdul Kalam and CNR Rao, Scientists have been consistent in confirming the encouragement given by the successive Prime Ministers, except by Morarji Desai to create a scientific temperament in the country.  Yes! There were failures; notably Kashmir and China. Kashmir was abuse of confidence by the UNO and China, betrayal of friendship.

This peace is not intended to list the achievement of Nehru Family, nor that of the Congress.  Congress is so ill-equipped with the facts that I did not receive even one message, nor a pamphlet released detailing the achievements of the Nehru Era; as against the series of howlers being received from other sources.

Indira Gandhi termed the opposition as obstacles and hindrances. Now the dissent and differences are being projected as ‘Blockades.’ “Modi is not being allowed to do anything.” Modi is not stopped from hopping from country to country. He is going with his own agenda. None prevented him from alienating the elders from the Party. If BJP were to get more than 130 seats in Karnataka, in all probabilities Modi it would have dissolved the Assemblies of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the Lok Sabha and would have gone for a fresh mandate before Dec. 2018.  Better the Modi camp understands that blasphemous attacks on his predecessors would not fetch him results in 2019. It may take centuries for the history to forget the services of the front ranking leaders of the National Movement. He may erect many Ambedkar’s statues of gold. But the Dalits may not believe BJP for some more decades. These were the reasons that a combination of a suspectable character Siddaramaiah and an inefficient Rahul Gandhi could get 38% of the polled votes as against the 36.2 % percent polled by the Modi – Shaw unity. There is food for thought; this is the area for introspection for 2019.



*The author is an advocate from Kurnool


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