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August 9, 2000
Karnataka govt clueless as kidnap drama continues
Fakir Chand in Bangalore
The Karnataka Government was clueless at the end of the tenth day on the much-awaited release of Kannada thespian Dr Rajakumar by forest brigand Veerappan, dashing hopes of 'good news' that was touted to be forthcoming from no less than state chief minister S M Krishna.
Since there was not even a shriek from the wilderness (read jungle) throughout Wednesday, the government shied away from briefing the media on the latest situation, as all assurances and promises made over the days on the icon's release only betrayed the people's expectations.
As is its wont, the sad demise of veteran Congressman S Nijilingappa at Chitadurga late Tuesday night only compounded the situation with the state plunging into grief and the government declaring a three-day mourning, including an official holiday on Wednesday, as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
Arrangements for a state funeral and the presence of the government machinery, including Krishna and his cabinet colleagues at the last rites of Karnataka's first chief minister, led to a vacuum in the corridors of power on the Veerappan front.
Resigned to fate and prayers to the almighty, an utterly hopeless government had been reduced to an endless waiting game with knee-jerk reactions and responses to half-baked statements and feelers emanating from Madras, the state capital of neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
In contrast to the mighty hopes raised on Tuesday, based on information or messages received from Madras every other hour, a once bitten twice shy state government opted to follow the three wise monkeys: "See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil".
With the government pre-occupied with Nijilingappa's death, there was no word whether the official crisis committee, set up a week ago to monitor developments on the abduction front, met at all.
State information minister B K Chandrashekar and officials at Vidhan Soudha, the seat of power, only exchanged notes on information released during the day by news agencies, All India Radio and television channels, quoting Madras director general of police F C Sharma and Nakkeeran's assistant editor A Kamraj.
A messenger of emissary R R Gopal was on the way to Madras with another audio or video cassette and a few photographs showing Rajakumar in the pink of health, they stated.
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