Vindictive stigmatisation fails to politically eliminate S.A. Ramdas

With three days to go for the Karnataka Assembly elections, we voters in Mysuru city are facing the onslaught of candidates seeking support based on their promises which they never deliver. And we voters, left with no choice, keep voting not wanting NOTA. After all, let there be someone to represent us as an MLA so that at least in times of grave need we could beg him to help… No wonder, an english journalist has most eloquently declared that “Indians have votes but they are not represented.” Looking at our city for the past 45 years, I am inclined to agree.

Now, of the three city Constituencies — Chamaraja, Narasimharaja (NR) and Krishnaraja (KR) — each one has been branded as belonging to a particular caste or religion. Chamaraja is Vokkaliga, NR Muslim and KR Brahmin. And believe me, the mainline political parties always fielded candidates on the caste and religious-line as mentioned above while others also contested. And winners, naturally, used to belong to the respective caste or religion.

The only two exceptions I could remember for this “tradition” are, one in NR when E. Maruthi Rao Pawar from BJP won by fluke (thanks to Azeez Sait not getting the Congress party symbol in time) and another in KR Constituency when a Lingayat H. Gangadharan won from BJP and in 2013 a Kuruba M.K. Somashekar won not by fluke but because of cut-throat rivalry among Brahmins. In the 2013 Assembly elections from KR Constituency the victim was the three-time BJP MLA S.A. Ramdas.

The evil days fell on him in that election mainly because of the split in the BJP where the former BJP Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa having quit the party on November 30th 2012, formed his own political party, Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) and fielded another Brahmin H.V. Rajeev, also a money bag like Ramdas. As a result, the Brahmin votes in this Brahmin majority Constituency got divided and the advantage went to Congress candidate Somashekar who won comfortably.

For this 12.5.2018 Assembly elections there was a keen competition between Ramdas and Rajeev for the BJP ticket following Rajeev joining the BJP along with B.S. Yeddyurappa. It was a cut-throat competition and its severity could be gauged from the fact that the candidature of Ramdas was announced at the last moment in the third list ! Yeddyurappa, now being the President of Karnataka BJP and Rajeev, being his close supporter, thought he would get the ticket. On the other hand, Ramdas thought, being a BJP loyalist, who did not leave BJP and go along with Yeddyurappa in 2012, would be rewarded with BJP ticket this time also. And, of course, Ramdas was rewarded with the ticket.

It was understandable, the Rajeev group was disappointed and it was clear Rajeev would pick-up the gauntlets and contest, no matter which party. I had learnt that an effort was made by Rajeev to join JD(S) but H.D. Kumaraswamy turned it down — his party having already given the ticket to JD(S) Corporator K.V. Mallesh.

Of course, there was still scope to pull out Mallesh by submitting a ‘C’ form, but Kumaraswamy was firm in his stand. So Rajeev was left with no choice but to say goodbye to BJP and contest independently. However, he did not exercise this option. One thought this was some hope for Ramdas to win.

But no. A few anti-Ramdas groups surfaced to damage not only the Brahmins’ vote-bank but also to ruin his image through character assassination. In fact, the same old scandalous “sting operation” was revived to besmirch his reputation so that BJP High Command may dump him as one with sullied public image. But the public of Mysuru was by then sufficiently educated about the games the frustrated or defeated politicians play.

Simultaneously, there appeared a legion of politicians, Ministers and MLAs, whose sexual escapades and profligate lives were exposed in TV, print and social media. In comparison, what we saw of Ramdas was a pale affair. I have seen on social media an old Minister in Siddharamaiah’s Ministry fornicating ! And yet he remained a Minister, the CM not willing to sack him. But I guess, as pressure mounted, he resigned. But now this man is given a Congress ticket to contest this elections !

In contrast, what was seen of Ramdas was a boring dialogue. Hurt by this exposure, he went into hibernation but soon came back to serve the KR Constituency through his voluntary organisation (NGO) known as Aasare (Refuge) set up even before he became an MLA in 2007. A beautiful name which  I remember twice a year when I get the birthday and my wedding anniversary card from Ramdas sent through Aasare Foundation! I learn these cards go to a large number of members in his Constituency.

A good PR I thought. By the way, the credit for bringing Kabini water to KR Constituency in January 2013, just before 2013 May elections, should go to him. It may be remembered that before Kabini water came to this Constituency Ramdas under Aasare used to supply water in four Water Tankers daily in water-starved areas of KR Constituency.

Another humanitarian service I remember is providing shelter and care to 26 orphan children afflicted with HIV positive at a Home, aptly named Amma Mane in Srirampura and educating them. In one function I was a chief guest and I was moved.

It is said he who does not learn from the past mistakes is doomed to repeat them and perish. A divided house cannot stand so also a divided community cannot win.

Now that issues regarding Rajeev have been successfully negotiated, Ramdas should reach out to all those seniors who worked for him in the past including 2013 and get them involved in the present election campaign. This will certainly help in maximising the votes for him on May 12.

e-mail: kbg@starofmysore.com

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