Bangalore: A tectonic political shift that brought the Congress back to power dismantling the BJP’s first-ever government in the South topped the variegated developments during 2013 in Karnataka.
The year also saw the usual quota of bitter wrangle on Cauvery water sharing between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, bomb blast near BJP headquarters here and the passing away of legendary playback singers P B Srinivas and Manna Dey.
On the corporate front, the country’s IT capital saw the grand re-entry of N R Narayana Murthy as Chairman of Infosys two years after his retirement in a bid to revive its fortunes and take it back to its halcyon days of glory.
As the year 2013 was ushered in, political turbulence continued in the state with the BJP government becoming more shaky as the then Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar faced unending troubles from B S Yeddyurappa whose supporters in the ruling party made him spend sleepless nights.
Twelve MLAs backing Yeddyurappa resigned from the BJP and threw in their lot with Yeddyurappa to topple the precarious Shettar government in January.
The number of rebels began to swell with Yeddyurappa going on the offensive to rope in more MLAs with the crisis continuing to keep the chequered regime of BJP on razor’s edge till the end of its term.
As the Assembly elections neared, the writing on the wall for the BJP was clear that its days were numbered as an anti-incumbency atmosphere became more and more palpable with political instability and corruption charges tainting the government’s image.
Elections came in May and the electorate handed out a clear and decisive mandate voting the Congress back to power with 121 seats in the 224-member Assembly and pushing BJP to
the third spot.
Yeddyurappa’s KJP chipped away BJP’s votes share, garnering 10 per cent of the votes polled but only managing to win six seats. It, however, had the consolation of teaching a lesson to BJP, which won only 40 seats, down from 110 secured in 2008.
The stand alone victory was a big relief for the Congress which has returned to power after a hiatus of more than seven years. The last time the party enjoyed a clear mandate was in 1999 when it won 123 seats under S M Krishna’s leadership. The Congress had formed a coalition government with the JDS in 2004 which, however, was short lived.
As expected, 64-year-old Siddaramaiah was chosen by the Congress to head the government after a virtual non-contest as his only serious challenger Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge easily opted out making the way smooth for him. KPCC chief G Parameshwara would have been a serious contender for the CM’s post but he lost the election.
A man of the Janata Parivar lineage, Siddaramaiah took over the reigns of administration on May 13 and is now enjoying the initial lease of goodwill by and large, barring some controversies which, however, are not unsettling.
The early part of 2013 saw Karnataka and Tamil Nadu locked in a wrangle over water sharing with the state saying it cannot spare water to the detriment of its own drinking water needs. Tamil Nadu insisted on 12 TMCft of water release.
The year started on a happy note for Tamil Nadu as the Centre issued the notification on the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal providing a framework for water sharing, thanks to the Supreme Court’s intervention.
There was ugly manifestation of terror as a bomb blast in close proximity to the BJP headquarters here left 17 people injured just weeks before the May 8 Assembly elections.
Vigilante groups’ activism surfaced again in Mangalore district in January when four girls and three boys were traumatised by some fringe Hindu group activists who accused them of smoking cannabis in an ice cream lounge. This was, however, an isolated incident in the district which had been witness to several such cases of different magnitude in the past.
A big void was created with the demise of Srinivas, who ruled the roost in Kannada cinema for more than two decades. PBS, as he was called, was the voice of Kannada thespian Rajkumar for whom he sang evergreen numbers. Srinivas was popular in the Tamil film industry too.
The death of Dey was another big loss. Dey, a Bengali, sang for Hindi films and had chosen to live in Bangalore and made it his home, winning the hearts of local people.
In December, the scion of the erstwhile Mysore royal family Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar died of cardiac arrest. He was the last descendant of the Wodeyar dynasty, which was held in high esteem in the old Mysore region.
Wodeyar was arguably one of the richest royals in the country who had continued to be the titular head of the dynasty and performed all the rituals during the famous Mysore Dasara festivities.
The attack of a woman bank official in an unguarded ATM kiosk with the CCTV footage showing the assailant repeatedly hitting her with a machete evoking a national outrage, also lent a gory dimension to the year.
The incident had forced closure of more than 1,000 unguarded ATM kiosks in the city, many of which have, however, reopened after remedial measures to provide security were taken by the banks.
The IT world in Bangalore saw an unexpected change with the comeback of Narayana Murthy as Infosys chairman.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be back here in an executive capacity,” 66-year-old Murthy admitted, as he readied himself for the second innings.
His return as the anchor of the software major came as Infosys, once the icon of the IT industry that set benchmarks, began to lose the plot yielding ground. And the move seems to be paying off with the company now showing signs of shining again.