Raids, Resorts and Saffron Reign
Columns, In Black & White

Raids, Resorts and Saffron Reign

August 5, 2017

On July 29 last Saturday at 4 am, 44 Gujarat MLAs were escorted into Eagleton  Golf Resort on Mysuru-Bengaluru Highway by D.K. Suresh as per the instructions of his powerful brother, Power Minister Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar, popularly known as DKS.

DKS, like former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, is well-versed in moving people and keeping them together. It started way back in 2002 when he managed to keep 40 Congress Legislators from Maharashtra safe in Golden Palm Resort.

But for a long time now Karnataka has not only become a popular IT hub, but also a popular hide-out hub! And like IT, its hide-out reputation has also grown. In 1983, Ramakrishna Hegde who led the Janata Party in Karnataka fearing a threat to topple his government by Indira Gandhi, had hid his MLAs!

This herding of MLAs to a secret location to save one’s government was noticed by many political leaders. Soon our neighbouring State’s then CM N.T. Rama Rao, when his government was under threat, sent his MLAs to Bengaluru for “safe-keeping.” Interestingly, when N.T. Rama Rao did this, one of the leaders advising him was the former BJP leader and now soon-to-be Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu!

But the art of resort politics was fine-tuned in Karnataka between 2004-2008. In 2004, after our State had a hung house, JD(S) became the king-maker. Knowing well that offers would flood from both parties to their MLAs, the JD(S) quickly moved all their MLAs to a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru while the JD(S) bosses negotiated.

Two years later in 2006, JD(S) was ready for another round of ‘trading’ with BJP. This time JD(S) MLAs were moved to Goa.  In 2008, it was BJP’s turn to hide a few defecting MLAs from the Opposition when BJP with 110 seats were three short of a majority!

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Recently, even in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) election, Corporators from JD(S) were herded into resorts till the polls for  Mayor and Deputy Mayor posts were held. No wonder one JD(S) leader boasted to Economic Times newspaper saying,  “We set the trend and now resort politics has become the norm.”  Wah! Is that an achievement to be proud of ?  Yes, our State leaders instead of being embarrassed for starting the trend of resort politics are proud that they are the pioneers! This is the typical mindset in our country where such acts are seen as being “clever” or “Chanakyatana” instead of being seen as unethical.

Let’s not forget the BJP did the same when they had herded Rajasthan BJP MLAs to a resort in Jaipur in June 2016, ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. Of course, BJP is smart with excuses. The party said it was taking the MLAs for a “technical workshop” on how to vote! We didn’t know putting a tick mark was such a “technical” problem. Again this excuse is seen as a “clever” one when in fact it’s a dishonest one. Again we only care about the end, means does not matter. By hook or by crook…win.

And win BJP wants to, and win the Rajya Sabha is what they want to. As this is the only place where the Opposition outnumbers the government, which is a cog in decision-making.

But they are on their way to fixing that problem.  After all, Samajwadi Party is in tatters, regional parties in the South are in turmoil ripe to be picked apart like in Tamil Nadu, CPI(M) is having their own issues as Sitaram Yechury is being denied a third term…

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Mayawati has resigned, Lalu is gone, Nitish Kumar has been rewarded. And the Congress well… all they have in terms of a big and rich State is Karnataka. Now, BJP, by raiding DKS, has stepped closer to its hope of a saffron reign.

First let’s not forget DKS was given credit for managing the Nanjangud and Gundlupet by-elections and winning both the seats for the Congress with his M&M skills — Money and Muscle.

DKS was expected to deploy the same delivery model during the State election in 2018. But with the BJP in Karnataka in a constant state of turmoil with Yeddy and Eshwarappa at loggerheads, the only way BJP can win is if they can make Congress weak… and with DKS’ raid they just did that.

Now DKS is going to be tied up in legal cases with ED and with that he is useless to Congress in 2018 election, as they say in Kannada “Aatakke unto lekkake elle” (He may be in the game but his contribution will be insignificant). And without DKS, Congress has no Money, no Muscle, no Win.

For now, BJP or to be correct … I-T Department with its raids has made some people happy, especially old Bengalureans because they feel DKS was responsible for the ruin of Bengaluru. After all, it was he who was the Urban Development Minister between 1999-2004 when the IT boom happened. While he became the second richest politician in India, Bengaluru became one of the worst cities to live in India.

DKS may be a powerful politician but he has met his match in a Party that today not only has Muscle and Money but ‘Chankayatana’ and ruthlessness that Congress is unable to fathom.

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