Corruption-scarred Karnataka Tuesday entered the 56th year of its
formation, hoping that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will not
further muddy its own and the state's image with more scandals.
"Rajyothsava Day (state formation day) is a time to celebrate all
Kannada-speaking areas coming under one roof. This year it is more
an occasion to wonder where the state is heading," S. Saraswati, a
Kannada school teacher in south Bangalore, told IANS.
Several states in India were reorganized in 1956 on a linguistic
basis. Large Kannada speaking areas in neighbouring states were
merged with Karnataka, then known as Mysore on Nov 1, 1956. It is
since celebrated as "Rajyothsava Day" with functions across the
"There is nothing to celebrate for the people except for the
beginning of a small stretch of Metro service in Bangalore, what
with so many political leaders either in jail or facing probe for
corruption," rued K. Sudhindra, a software professional in a
leading multinational firm.
Such despair over the current state of affairs in the once
well-governed state and worry over whether things will only worsen
are no surprise as Karnataka battles to get rid of the tag of "the
most corrupt state in the country".
"I hope (Chief Minister D.V.) Sadananda Gowda and (BJP leader) L.K.
Advani will stick to their promises made on the eve of the
Rajyothsava," said M. Mallikarjuna, a retired history professor in
Gowda, BJP's second chief minister in the state in less than four
years, declared Monday: "I will give corruption-free
administration and I will not sit in the chair even for a moment
if corruption charge is made against me."
Though a large number of political leaders do make such
declarations often, Gowda's promise, made in the presence of
Advani at a public meeting in Udupi, assumes significance.
It came in the backdrop of his predecessor B.S. Yeddyurappa, the
BJP's first chief minister in south India, being jailed in two
corruption cases filed against him in January this year.
Yeddyurappa quit July 31, four days after then Lokayukta
(ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommended his trial for corruption
in illegal mining scam.
Gowda is Yeddyurappa's handpicked man and is often taunted by
Congress and Janata Dal-Secular as a "puppet" of the former chief
Besides Yeddyurappa, three former BJP ministers have also been
arrested, Katta Subramanya Naidu and S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty in
corruption cases and mining baron G. Janardhana Reddy in illegal
mining case in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Two ministers in the Gowda cabinet - Home Minister R. Ashoka, and
Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani - are facing a police probe
over land grab charges.
On Monday, one more BJP lawmaker S. Muniraju came under cloud as a
complaint was filed in the Lokayukta court that he had used
official clout to grab land in his constituency Dasarahalli on
At his public meeting here on Oct 30, Advani made a passing
reference to the scandals rocking his party in the state and
repeated that corruption will not be tolerated.
He also praised Gowda for "going in the right direction" and hoped
he will give "good administration". Apparently this pat on his
back prompted Gowda to declare in Udupi that he will give
It will be easier said than done as he first has to establish his
authority as chief minister.
Advani got the taste of the deep divisions in the party's
Karnataka unit as over a dozen ministers known to be Yeddyurappa
loyalists boycotted his public meeting in Bangalore.
Gowda will need more than a pat on the back from Advani to put
Karnataka back on the good administration track.
(V.S. Karnic can be
contacted at email@example.com)