The defining feature of the Karnataka elections of 2008 is the legitimisation of big money as being central to the political process. Whereas in the past, the various lobbies—excise, education, infrastructure, etc—were happy to bankroll their chosen ones and stay behind the scenes, the new moneybags like miners and land sharks are hands-on in their political ambitions and not at all cagey about advertising it.
And the BJP, for all its sanctimonious self-righteousness, is only too happy to play the game.
Leaders like Sushma Swaraj, whose election campaign in Bellary against Sonia Gandhi saw the mining lobby obtain a stranglehold on Karnataka politics, offer two very predictable responses. One, if the Congress has done so all these years, why should the BJP be stopped? And two, when there is no law against moneybags from entering politics, how can we keep them out if they want to “serve the people”.
Little wonder, the Reddy brothers—N. Karunakar Reddy and N. Janardhan Reddy—played a key role in wooing and winning over the independents whose support is crucial for the B.S. Yediyurappa government.
Little wonder, Anand Singh (in picture, above), the newly elected MLA from Vijaynagar, has taken out a full-page advertisement in today’s Hindu, larger than Yediyurappa’s own ad in Vijaya Karnataka.
Singh declared assets of Rs 74.56 crore, according to Karnataka Election Watch, and faces criminal cases for “unlawful assembly, rioting, rioting, armed with deadly weapon, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, voluntarily causing hurt, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace, criminal intimidation, house-trespass, mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees, member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object, and attempt to murder.”
Lest we forget, M/s Singh, Reddys, et al, will be making laws for the people of the land.