BS YeddyurappaManisha Singh
A popular leader of the Lingayat community, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa is the man who is credited to have led the Bhartiya Janata Party to its first government in the South. He became the chief minister of Karnataka when BJP won a historic victory in the 2008 Assembly elections. However, not even in his wildest dreams BSY, as he is called, would have thought that a day would come when he would have to leave his own party. And the BJP too would not have imagined that five years down the line, the party would be on the verge of losing its first bastion in South India.
Born on 27 February 1943, Yeddyurappa was associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from his college days, but his spell in public life began when he was appointed as secretary of the Sangh`s Shikaripur unit in 1970. He was appointed president of the Shikaripura taluk unit of the BJP in 1980 and in 1988 he became the state president of the BJP in Karnataka. In 1983 he was elected as a MLA for the first time and has since then represented the Shikaripura constituency six times.
However, BSY tasted real power for the first time when he helped Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy to bring down the coalition government headed by Dharam Singh and form an alternative government with BJP. At that time an agreement was made between the JD(S) and BJP, which said that Kumaraswamy would be CM for the first 20 months and then Yeddyurappa would become the chief minister for the next 20 months.
But when it was BSY’s turn to become the CM in October 2007, Kumaraswamy refused to leave his post, forcing Yeddyurappa and his party ministers to resign. Thus on October 05, the BJP withdrew support to the Kumaraswamy government and subsequently Karnataka came under President`s rule which was revoked on November 07 after JD(S) and the BJP buried their differences and Yeddyurappa become the 25th CM of Karnataka on 12 November 2007. But it was short-lived as JD(S) refused to support his government after a disagreement erupted on the sharing of ministries.
Subsequently, state elections were held in 2008 wherein Yeddyurappa led the BJP to victory in Karnataka and the party probably thought that this would open the floodgates to other southern states. However, much water has passed under the bridge since then and the man finally left the BJP and formed his own party, the Karnataka Janata Party or KJP.
In November 2010, the Karnataka Lokayukta investigating illegal mining indicted Yeddyurappa for illegally profiteering from land deals in Bangalore and Shimoga, and also in connection with the illegal iron ore export scam in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts. Following pressure from the BJP central leadership, he resigned on 31 July 2011 as the CM.
He was arrested on October 15, 2011; hours after the lokayukta court issued an arrest warrant in two cases of corruption against him. Later, he was granted bail after spending 23 days in jail. After much bitterness with BJP leaders in Delhi and feeling slighted at not being reinstated as CM, he resigned from the primary membership of BJP and formed his own party – the Karnataka Janata Party. In the Karnataka local polls in March this year, which had been billed as the semi finals before the state Assembly elections, the KJP was routed and failed to make an impact.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah is the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and has been the deputy chief minister of the state in the past on two occasions.
At a time when internal bickering is rampant in the Congress party over the appointment of chief minister candidate, Siddaramaiah, the powerful leader of the Kuruba Gowdas community has made no secret of his ambition to become the CM if the Congress is able to cross the magic number of 113 in the Assembly elections. “One has to be hopeful and optimistic always, not pessimistic,” he said.
Siddaramaiah entered the political arena in 1978 and entered the state Assembly in 1983 by winning Chamundeshwari constituency as a BJP candidate. However, he later on joined the Janata Party. After the split of Janata Party, Siddaramaiah joined the Janata Dal (Secular) under the leadership of Deve Gowda. In 2006 the Kuruba Gowdas community leader had fallout with Deve Gowda and subsequently he joined the Congress.
Making a calculated move in the upcoming state elections, Siddaramaiah is contesting from Varuna constituency as it has a sizeable chunk of Kurubas.
The supporters of Siddaramaiah see him as the top contender for the CM’s post. However, the Congress is sticking to its tradition of not announcing its chief minister candidate before the polls. Though, everything will depend on the outcome of the election results, Siddaramaiah will definitely face a daunting task to convince the high command in Delhi if the Congress manages to cross the half-way mark, as other than him, Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and KPCC chief G Parameshwara are also said to be in the fray.
Narayan Dharam SinghHimanshu Kapoor
Narayan Dharam Singh, who was the 17th Chief Minister of Karnataka, is currently Member of Parliament representing Bidar constituency. Singh joined Indian National Congress in 1960s and since then has remained with the party.
Known as a low profile politician, Singh has won Jewargi Assembly constituency for eight consecutive terms. In 1999, he missed the chair of chief minister of Karnataka by a very small margin to SM Krishna. Later he joined Krishna’s ministry and handled the Public Works Department portfolio. Singh is the second leader from Gulbarga to become the chief minister of Karnataka after late Veerendra Patil.
After 2004 state elections resulted in a hung Assembly, Singh emerged as the unanimous choice by both the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) and was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka. He left the office in 2006 after the coalition government collapsed.
Handling diverse portfolios such as Home, Excise, Social Welfare, Urban Development and Revenue, Singh has served as a minister under various CMs such as Devaraj Urs, R Gundu Rao, S Bangarappa, Veerappa Moily and SM Krishna. He obtained his MA and LLB degrees from Osmania University, Hyderabad and practiced as an advocate before entering politics.
In 2008 he contested the state elections and was defeated by a slim margin of 52 votes. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections Singh emerged victorious after contesting from Bidar constituency.
Singh was the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly during the tenure of Kumaraswamy. In a setback to Dharam Singh, in 2008 the Karnataka Lokayukta found him and 11 other officials guilty of causing a loss to the state exchequer owing to irregularities in the mining sector.
HD Deve GowdaHimanshu Kapoor
HD Deve Gowda, who is the leader of Janata Dal (Secular) was the eleventh prime minister of India and was also the fourteenth chief minister of Karnataka. He is at present a Member of Parliament representing his home town Hassan in Karnataka. Gowda, an influential leader of the Vokkaliga community, is popularly known as ‘son of the soil’ for championing the cause of the farmers.
Born on May 18, 1933 in Haradanahalli village of Holenarasipurataluk, Gowda began his political career at an early age and joined the Congress party in 1953 and worked as a party worker till 1962. Later, he stood as an independent candidate from Holenarasipura constituency and won the elections.
Gowda is credited to have played an important role in highlighting the problem of farmers and also pushing for reservation for minority, backward classes, scheduled castes and tribals when he became the CM of Karnataka in 1994.
He served as the Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly from 1972 to 1976 and then from 1976 to 1977. He also served as the minister of PWD and is said to have initiated several irrigation projects. Gowda was imprisoned in 1975 for eighteen months for opposing Emergency declared by then PM Indira Gandhi.
In 1991, he was elected to the tenth Lok Sabha and in 2009 was re-elected to the fifteenth Lok Sabha in his fifth term. However, the he achieved the height of his political career in 1996 when he became the Prime Minister of India and remained so till April 1997.
Jagadish ShettarHemant Abhishek
`Cometh the hour, cometh the man`
After the defection of heavyweight BS Yeddyurappa from the party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was staring at the loss of the loyalty of the Lingayat clan among whom BSY held sway. The party`s plan then was not just to give the clan a leader from among their own but also to crown someone under whose clean shadow they could rest and plan the way into 2013.
Jagadish Shettar, who narrowly missed out to Sadananda Gowda when Yeddyurappa relinquished the CM`s chair in 2011, finally got a shot at coveted post in Karnataka last year. And his claim-to-fame has been that he has managed a scam-free tenure so far. More importantly, Shettar`s `Mr Clean` image gave some respite to the BJP when the opposition kept baying for the government`s blood after BSY`s embroilment in alleged corrupt practices. And that is Shettar`s poll-pitch in the Karnataka Assembly elections.
From being a part of Jan Sangh and ABVP to becoming party`s first speaker of the state Assembly, 57-year-old Shettar has steadily climbed up the party ranks. And in an almost three-decade-long political career, Shettar has earned himself the tag of an ‘honest’ politician. After navigating the government through troubled times he said, “Though the Opposition leaders ridiculed that my tenure would end within two months, 12 legislators resigned their membership and some people were against my presenting the state budget, I have completed nine months in power.”
The four times MLA from Hubli-Dharwad did face troubled times when at one time almost the entire Karnataka BJP outfit looked perilously close to defecting into Yeddyurappa`s newly-formed party, the KJP. But entrusted by the high command to clear the stains of corruption from the party`s cloak, Shettar did well enough to earn him a projection as the party`s chief ministerial candidate again.
"We will appeal to the people to forgive us for our lapses. We will seek another opportunity by assuring the people of providing a spotless government", said Shettar, who, the BJP claims will continue to be the chief minister in the event of the party returning to power.
He also said that no single person could claim to have contributed single-handedly to the party`s growth in Karnataka. "BJP was not born yesterday. Individuals come and go at the state and national levels."
Shettar did not name BSY, but clarified that the party has rid itself of the phantom of `corruption`. “Those who gave us a bad name have left the party,” he added.
It remains to be seen whether the Kannadigas are willing to reinvest in the BJP, and re-elect Shettar as their CM or whether he gets to bear the cross of party`s previous bad karma.
SM KrishnaDeepak Nagpal
Late last year, SM Krishna stepped down as the external affairs minister from the union Cabinet. While the reason given was the investigation ordered by Karnataka Lokayukta Court over alleged irregularities in the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, many had speculated then that he was being readied for the ‘Karnataka mission’ as the Congress was aiming to win power in the southern state.
However, six months down the line Krishna appears to have been sidelined and the former chief minister’s role in the May 5 state polls appears to have been restricted to a mere campaigner. None of his loyalists have got tickets and the ones who got the ticket were replaced for one or the other reason.
There was talk that Krishna could be made the head of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, but no such thing has happened. Krishna probably fell out of Congress’ scheme of things as party chief Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul wanted to explore new leadership options in the state.
The role of this once-a-crucial-leader is seen just as a guiding force by a majority of congressmen. And he has entered the poll battlefield to fulfil this responsibility, campaigning for party candidates. “I am happy with the responsibility that the party has given me,” Krishna said.
But while doing so, the former CM also sent out a message loud and clear – that he is available and raring to go.
With the Congress unlikely to announce its CM candidate before the results of the May 5 elections are out, who knows the party may fall back on the veteran to ‘guide’ the next government from the front seat!
HD KumaraswamyBiplob Ghosal
Haradanahalli Deve Gowda Kumaraswamy is the son of former Prime Minister of India HD Deve Gowda and president of Janata Dal (Secular). Kumaraswamy and his wife Anita, contesting from Ramanagaram and Channapatna respectively, are the richest couple in Karnataka poll fray with assets worth Rs 123 crore.
During his early life, the JD (S) president was actively involved in the Kannada film industry and has been a successful film producer and distributor. Known to be a great fan of Kannada actor Dr Rajkumar, Kumaraswamy, who is also fondly called as ‘Kumaranna’, was initially apprehensive of entering into the political arena. But as he did, he became quite successful and won the Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat in 1996. Since then he has been the most popular face of his party.
Though his elder brother HD Revanna entered the political space much earlier, he could not gain as much popularity as Kumaraswamy did. The JD(S) president’s popularity rose especially amongst the rural people by the initiation of ‘Janatha Darshana’ and ‘Grama Vaastavya’ programmes.
Kumaraswamy became the chief minister of Karnataka in February 4, 2006 by accepting the power sharing agreement with the Bharatiya Janata Party. As per the agreement, he had to leave the CM`s office on 3rd October 2007. But his MLAs asked him to remain in office due to complications in the arrangement to transfer the power. Thus, after refusing the transfer of power to the BJP, he resigned from the CM`s post on October 08, 2007, following which President’s rule was imposed in the state.
Being the only star campaigner for the JD (S), other than his father Deve Gowda, Kumaraswamy shoulders huge responsibility for his party. The JD (S) leader and former chief minister, who is seeking re-election for the third time from Ramnagar constituency, is banking on the anti-corruption wave against the ruling BJP to increase his party’s tally in the elections.
Given Congress’ poor performance at the Centre and issue like massive corruption and leadership crisis hitting the BJP, ‘Kumaranna’ has a good chance of emerging as the king maker in the Karnataka Assembly elections 2013.