Flashback 2009 : Young women assaulted for going to a pub, an incident that triggered nationwide outrage, financial clout used to bring the first BJP government in the state to the brink of collapse - these instances blackened Karnataka’s fair image in 2009.
And the devastating floods that hit large parts of north Karnataka, killing over 200 people and leaving more than a million homeless, added further gloom during the year.
The year started with pro-Hindu youths slapping and hitting girls in a pub Jan 24 in Mangalore in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada. The incident shocked people as the clip was aired on television channels. It provoked a cheeky campaign on the internet to send ’pink chaddis’ (underwear) to those behind the attack - members of pro-Hindu outfit Sri Rama Sene (army of Lord Ram).
The anger and the net campaign forced Sri Rama Sene to give up its plan to disturb Valentine’s Day celebrations across Karnataka.
The state’s political scene was also full of antics through the year with the BJP’s first chief minister in southern India, B.S. Yeddyurappa, made to learn the bitter lesson of no free lunches in power games.
Yeddyurappa had used the financial clout of mining barons, the Reddy brothers of Bellary, about 400 km from here, to wean away several Congress and Janata Dal-Secular legislators to his side to get a clear majority for the BJP on its own.
The brothers, Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother Revenue Minister G. Karunaka Reddy, launched a campaign in October-November to replace Yeddyurappa when they felt he was trying to sideline them in the government and party affairs.
They claimed the support of more than 50 of the party’s 117 legislators and refused to budge to the pleas of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley. They cooled down when their ’thayi’ (mother) Sushma Swaraj, now Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, brokered a peace deal that heavily ate into Yeddyurappa’s image as well as powers.
The normally stern-faced Yeddyurappa shed tears in front of TV cameras over his plight. He had no respite as dissidence flared again when the year was coming to an end. Yeddyurappa inducted a dissident leader, M.P. Renukacharya, into the ministry on Dec 24.
Renukacharya is facing a criminal case on charges of extortion, breach of peace, criminal intimidation and insulting the modesty of a woman following a complaint by a nurse, Jayalakshmi, who alleged he had been sexually harassing her.
In September end, large parts of north Karnataka were ravaged by heavy rain and flash floods with the state government estimating the damage at over Rs.16,000 crore. The central government granted Rs.1,000 crore as immediate relief.
The state government had egg on its face in the last month of the year again.
A panel of the two houses of the state legislature set up to probe the quality and facilities at the new Bangalore International Airport blamed the country’s IT icon N. R. Narayana Murthy, among several others, for the shoddy design and infrastructure at the airport.
Murthy, founder of IT major Infosys, was ex-officio chairperson of the Bengaluru International Airport Ltd and presided over only two meetings of the board.
With the media going to town that Murthy has been ’indicted’, the panel members, including state Congress working president D.K. Shivakumar, who was instrumental in setting up of the probe committee, washed their hands off the report.
The head of the panel, D. Hemachandra Sagar, a BJP legislator, also rushed to the media to proclaim that Murthy was not to be blamed for the ’shoddy’ airport.