Manivannan’s here to stay; sorry, Shimoga

As a Mysorean my first thought on learning of the fall of the Yeddyurappa government was, “Manivannan won’t have to move, after all”. His transfer order to Shimoga would have been given effect had Mr Y survived Monday’s assembly session. Mysore municipal/MUDA commissioner Mr Manivannan would have moved to Shimoga, Mr Y’s native place.

But then no one could have guessed that the man sworn in a week earlier as CM would find himself unemployed so soon. I had signed off an earlier post (as a lark) with a wishful sentence – A dramatic turn of events on the day of reckoning may hold an answer to the prayers of public spirited Mysoreans.

The thing about politics in Bangalore is that it is unpredictably volatile, with key players taking 180 degree turn in their stated positions, every other hour of the day. It is in such situations a media reporter gets to be a political pundit. You could get away with any spin, with reasonable expectation that developments would swing your way. Reporters, notably of the 24×7 channels, driven by the need to keep talking, theorizing, anticipating, and analyzing, pose in front of the camera as if they are on top of the story. Reality was no one had a clue what Mr Deve Gowda was up to at any given moment. Mr G, in Bangalore till late afternoon, air-dashes to Delhi in the evening, ostansibly to do deal with the Congress, as if he (Mr G) had planned it all.

Talk-shows were particularly entertaining; so much so that I skipped Mr & Mrs Smith, featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, on Star Movies to surf channels, from News Hour to Centre Stage, to Face the Nation (frustrating thing is you can’t dodge commercials, for all channels have ‘breaks’ around the same time).

A calamity, they say, tends to bring out the best in humans. But unlike in a cyclone, a quake, tsunami and other natural calamity, a political turmoil brings out the worst and the meanest in the lead players. In a spirited post – Bangalore politics stinks – blogger Pradeep Nair says he finds it hard to fathom what drives Mr. Deve Gowda who thrive on ‘engineering reckless destabilization games’. The blogger is amazed that “there isn’t a voice of sanity anywhere near him”.

If Mr G is Machiavellian in tactics and an MOP (master of opportunistic politics) why would anyone want to do business with him, in the first place? In politics, notably in Karnataka, it appears no one raises such naïve questions. Politics is a matter of maxing one’s opportunity gains. BJP appears no less opportunistic in this context. Even as their CM ‘ho-haed’ in the media about Mr G’s mega betrayal, groups of Yeddyurappa supporters reportedly thronged Mr G’s residence to request him to reconsider the JD(S) decision (to vote against the government in the trust motion). They were promptly snubbed by Mr G, saying, “It is all over”.

The flip-flap politics that brought governance to a virtual stand-still in recent weeks would have been worth it, if it leads to a situation where people could say, it’s all over for Mr G as well. The Hindu, polling people for man-in-the-street reactions cites a chartered accountant who wondered whether there was a need for an elected government at all. His point was that under the governor’s rule one could count on predictability; a certain progress in on-going development projects.

A company CEO Mr Harish Bijoor, appearing on IBN-CNN chat-show, observed that, of the three contending parties the BJP is the only one that hasn’t been tested in power and the JD(S) now made it look ‘an underdog’. The underdog factor ought to work in BJP’s favour in a fresh election held anytime soon. However, in his reckoning, Karnataka is likely to return a fractured verdict again.

Mr Bijoor, thinking out-of-the-box, said, in such an eventuality, each of the three parties should be given a chance to govern for 20 months each. Mr B has a point. This would rule out scope for a coalition papered over with self-serving MoU, stamp-paper tactics and other arm-twisters. 

Cross-posted in Desicritics


2 Responses

  1. Reading about the state of politics in Karnataka at a distance, the first impression is the depth to which the politicians have sunk to, and a relief that I no longer live in Karnataka and India. The next impression is one of sadness that Karnataka, the state where I was born, brought up and educated and was proud to belong to the state that
    the great Krishnaraja Wodeyar ruled and Sir MV administered. At a time when the politics of the then Madras State was mired in bitterness and bickering induced by the tirades of Kamaraja Nadar against Rajaji (the caste was an issue then), the Rajapramukh of Mysore State ably assisted his band of ministers was setting the political trend. The rot started in 1960s, a little more than a decade after independence. The politicians, sad to say those belonging to the Congress cast off the skin of sacrifice and decency that won them respect during the British Raj, and ventured into the world of money and power. They thought that the country and the state owned debt of gratitude for the sacrifices of their Party, and it was the ‘payback ‘time. The late Nijalingappa’s penchant for persuading other political parties to withdraw their candidates in his constituency so that he can be elected ‘unopposed’ to become the CM was an example of the rot I mentioned. From then on, the politics of Karanataka was on a selfish slippery slope.

    Just when the politicians in other democracies are getting younger and more focused to do what is right for their country, the Indian politics, at the state level at least belong to old men like Thiru Karunanidhi and Mr G. These men should realise that they had their innings and it is their duty to become men of wisdom, and advice young politicians the need for a ‘moral bottom line’ while aspiring for leadership and power. Instead, they have become greedy and vengeful of their political opponents who have as much right to aspire for leadership and power. Once of my history teachers who was fiercely patriotic, and who took part in many civil disobedience movements in the then Mysore during 1930s and 40s said to me as far back as 1960s, that what motivated him in those days was his belief that practices of the British Raj
    Should xome to an end. Seeing Nijalingappa’s machinations, he wondered whether his sacrifice was in vain. He continued that in those days it was the white man who usurped power against the natives, and after independence in Mysore and neighbouring sates, it was the native man with the right caste who usurped power against fellow natives . He said ’ I have never seen an ex-CM dying poor’. But those ex-CMs he referred to are pygmies when it comes to amassing power and wealth that is norm in politics today. Mr G and his ilk want further slices of power and wealth. that is the bottom line for them.

    A strange thought comes to my mind whenever my Western friends praise the continuation of democracy in India. In a dictatorship, the dictator and his nearest and dearest share power and wealth. In India, democracy works, not because of the fire of freedom in the natives’ bellies, but because politicians as a mass can share the proceeds. One day, one of them will have a chance to get the largest slice of the proceeds. That is the bitter truth. Manivannan is a mere cog in a filthy big wheel.

  2. A wild, impotent rant, I’m afraid, but I’m in one of those moods…

    India is never going to improve until there is more accountability. If a person is accountable for something, it means he loses his job if that thing is goofed up. Doesn’t exist in this country. Heard of any one, ANY ONE, who has been punished for dereliction of duty? Don’t rack your brains. Hasn’t happened. Won’t happen. Wrong country for that.

    India runs because there are people like Mannivanan, people who do their job honestly and sincerely even when no one is watching. Such people will always be there, I guess, our culture kind of breeds them, but their proportion is declining. Soon, there won’t be enough of them to make a difference. And the polity will slowly become terminally ill with the cancer of casteism and socialism.

    Karnataka is one of the worst infected with non-accountability. I’m not much of a political scientist but what happened, I think, is this: Gowda and his party cut a deal with BJP. The deal was, I run the state for x period. I make my cash. Then you run the state for x period. You make your cash. Now Gowda does not want to relinquish control of the till. And the BJP is weeping buckets because they don’t think they can win even these many seats again. They don’t seem to have figured out that they have a reasonable chance of shouting from the roof tops and turning in a good performance at the polls. They’re still weeping about the cash they’ve lost.

    It is a sorry state of affairs. When will things change? When people learn that they should vote for performance, not caste or community. When they roast their MLA or MP for not paying attention to his constituency, or making a fool of himself. At the rate this change is happening, however, by the time they finally figure it out, we’ll probably have been taken over by China.

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