Grouse against national parties but no love for regional outfits (Karnataka Newsletter)

Bangalore, April 13 (IANS) The people of Karnataka are either enigmatic or intelligent voters – they have a litany of complaints against national parties and the central government but have been reluctant to vote a regional party to power in the state.

They believe that their neighbours – mainly Tamil Nadu and to some extent Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa – are always favoured over Karnataka by the central government in matters ranging from water to power.

However, this grouse, often expressed through demonstrations and shutdowns, has not translated into love for regional or smaller parties.

The main reason is no strong regional party has taken root, though the attempts continue.

Three attempts in the past were made by stalwarts of Karnataka politics D. Devaraj Urs, S. Bangarappa and Ramakrishna Hegde.

But there was a major drawback in their attempts.

All three were part of national parties like Congress or Janata Dal and had enjoyed power in various capacities – ending up as chief ministers.

Their attempts were also not sustained for long as they seemed to lose enthusiasm after electoral defeats in their first attempts as heads of regional outfits.

This lack of voters’ enthusiasm has not deterred the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first chief minister in Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, to try his luck.

Yeddyurappa, who heads the Karnataka Janata Party after quitting the BJP, is confident that the time is now ripe for the success of a regional party in the state.

The fate suffered by Urs, Bangarappa and Hegde shows Yeddyurappa’s confidence seems misplaced as he too suffers from the same faultline as these three leaders, who have since passed away.

In the case of Yeddyurappa, it is actually a double-fault.

He claims only a regional party in power in Karnataka, and not a national party, can get justice for the state from the central government.

At the same time, he is reluctant to pull out his son B.Y. Raghavendra, from BJP. Raghavendra is BJP Lok Sabha member and was suspended from the party only early this week for “anti-party” activities as he has been openly working for his father’s outfit.

Raghavendra, too, has not shown any inclination to quit his Lok Sabha membership and claimed after his suspension that he can now work harder for the development of his constituency, Shimoga, about 280km north of Bangalore!

Another prominent KJP leader is Yeddyurappa loyalist and former BJP minister C.M. Udasi. His son Shivakumar Udasi is also a BJP Lok Sabha member from Karnataka and has been suspended for working for KJP. Like Raghavendra, Udasi junior is also not keen on giving up his Lok Sabha membership.

Going to the voters on regional sentiments while suffering from such serious contradiction of allowing sons to remain in a national party is more like testing the intelligence of the electorate rather than seeking their mandate.

This, perhaps, is the reason for the widespread belief in the state – and across the nation – that the KJP will fare poorly in the May 5 poll for the 225-member assembly, which includes one nominated member.

The people of Karnataka seem destined to live with national parties and see their list of complaints against central government grow as only disgruntled leaders from those parties keep floating regional outfits.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at [email protected])

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