E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I was watching Sreenivasan Jain trying to moderate the dog (?) fight between Margaret Alva and Sushma Swaraj amidst some invited guests on NDTV and wondering how difficult it was for pollsters to predict a winner.
It’s become worse than guessing an IPL 20-20 winner, I thought, except of course when Vijay Mallya is serving his RC.
As the lids closed over my eyes on results day, I could hear Prannoy Roy….
It was one of the greatest victories for democracy in the world. S. M. Krishna, who came to bring Congress back to power, got 75 seats. H.D. Deve Gowda, who had stepped down from national politics to fight local elections, also got 75 seats. The junior most among the three, B.S. Yediyurappa, got 73 seats.
The only independent in the 224-seat Assembly was M. Lakshmana from Mysore.
If this was not historic enough, the three parties pledged to bury their differences and form a united government for the welfare of the people.
For the first time in the history of Indian politics, there would be no Opposition—the lone member Lakshmana would constitute the responsible benches.
The Chief Minister wouldn’t be a person, but a committee.
The Government led by Krishna, Gowda and Yedi took their oath simultaneously from Bangalore, Hassan and Shimoga which was seen in all villages across the State, thanks to a simultaneous live telecast on Chandana TV.
Sonia Gandhi became the chairperson and Deve Gowda agreed to be deputy Chairperson of the government of United National Farmers and Information Technology. (UNFIT).
Thus Karnataka became the first State ever, officially to have an UNFIT government of the people, for the people, by the people.
The new government started its work as if it had been struck by a tsunami.
Gowda, not only echoed the views of Krishna and announced distribution of free TV and rice at Rs. 2 a kilo but also added ragi to the list. Not to be outdone, Krishna doubled the reservation of jobs to 60% for Kannadigas in the IT, BT sector, which was originally a Deve Gowda idea. Yediyurappa announced distribution of free cycles for teachers all over the State and promised to open a cycle factory. He also promised to clear their pending salaries within the next couple of months.
SMK called the PWD minister H.D. Revanna and exhorted him to make Bangalore a Singapore as well as Shanghai, the latter being Deve Gowda’s pet dream whenever he dozed off on the dais.
Revanna ordered all JCBs to be rounded up to immediately acquire lands for the same.
Gowda embraced Ashok Kheny and asked him to create the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor at the earliest and assured him no roadblocks this time. He authorized his sons to ensure Kheny got whatever land he wanted.
What’s more, the humble farmer from Holenarsipur made an impassioned plea to N.R. Narayana Murthy to let bygones be bygones and handle the IT responsibilities of the Government.
The UNFIT government announced to and fro free travel by helicopter for passengers to and from Devanahalli Airport.
A small dispute arose when Deve Gowda insisted that the airport be called “S.M. Krishna International Airport” which was rejected by Krishna who wanted it be called “H.D. Deve Gowda International Airport”.
Finally, a sort of compromise was reached; it was decided to name the arrival terminal as “Deve Gowda International Arrival Terminal” (DEGOIT) and the departure terminal as “Krishna International Departure Terminal” (KRIDET). Likewise the National terminals were also apportioned in the names of H.D. Kumaraswamy and Yediyurappa.
There was prosperity everywhere.
People eating top-quality rice at Rs2 a kilo all the time put on weight watching IPL matches on the free colour TV. Tourists from Shanghai and Singapore flocked to Bangalore to gape at the city and Revanna and wondered how their cities would look if only they modernized their cities on similar lines.
The UNFIT leaders decided to go to Delhi to meet the high command. But Soniaji herself called to inform she was coming with Manmohanji to accord classical status to Kannada. It was decided to arrange a grand reception in the open space opposite Vidhana Soudha an the stage would be called “Sonia Gandhi Manch” for that day.
Sonia had decided to give a speech in Kannada this time script written in Kannada. She had decided to give a surprise to Kannadigas by dressing like “Onake Obavva” with an onake (pistle) in hand while delivering the speech.
The lone opposition member was initially invited for the function. Later apprehending, he might raise uneasy questions like Chamalapura Thermal Plant, 24×7 Cauvery water for Mysore, they dropped the idea.
Black flag demonstrations were banned in the vicinity.
Soniaji arrived on stage with a onake in hand and banged it on the dais to get the attention of the audience. She started off with “Anna thammandire matthu akka thangiare, Nimagellarigu Namaskara…”
I woke up with a start. The remote control had dropped from my lap and hit the ground.
My wife was shouting.. . “Yellri! The mining belt is fighting election with helicopters and guns. Dishum dishum yuddha shuruvaythu.”
The greatest experiment in democracy in Karnataka was over.