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Rediff.com  » News » Sriramulu's Bellary win: More to it than we think possible

Sriramulu's Bellary win: More to it than we think possible

December 07, 2011 19:09 IST

Sriramulu has proved that a politician is true to his own self, his own needs, his own mentors of the moment, and that the public does not matter after the vote is cast. The voter is to be remembered only at the next round of elections, whenever it is, says Mahesh Vijapurkar.

There are many ways of looking at the victory of B Sriramulu to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. He was mentored by Karnataka's mining barons, the Reddy brothers (Janardhan and Karunakar) and it is the victory of a few individuals over a mighty party is one way.

That the result might tempt the Reddy brothers to take on the BJP whose candidate humiliatingly lost his deposit despite it being in power is part of that one-dimensional perspective.

To say that Sreeramulu defied the successor to B S Yeddyurappa for being not taken on board the new ministry is another such perspective. By himself, he just may not have had the power or the gumption but for the clout of the miner-brothers.

Digvijaya Singh -- that dial a quote politician -- too fell short when he tried to see it as the failure of L K Advani's yatra against corruption. It was, to say the least, facile, something meant for scoring points, building an adverse image for a political rival. Simplistic as it was, it was full of spin which politicians deliver with the help from a hungry media.

The victory by a big margin also easily lends itself to the romance of the David and Goliath kind of narratives which the media loves to put out, especially when Sriramulu decides to make a grand entry to the same legislature from which he quit in a huff. It lends itself to the proposition that a wronged man can avenge his humiliation. Yes, his victory enables that perspective.

But is that all there is to it?

On his victory, resounding indeed, Sriramulu journeyed to Hyderabad to meet his incarcerated mentors, sought their blessings and put out the word that he may swing a few independents his way especially because he has shown his political muscle underscored by the votes he fetched, indicating that he was on his way to bigger things.

This victory has to be seen in other ways as well.

Sriramulu has proved the proposition that I have been advocating all along. That a politician is true to his own self, his own needs, his own mentors of the moment, and that the public does not matter after the vote is cast. The voter is to be remembered only at the next round of elections, whenever it is.

He had money -- it is patent that the purse strings of the Reddy brothers would have been loosened to enable the campaign. He had clout -- who dare go against the Reddy brothers who even asked the Lokayukta's police as to how dare they step into Bellary without their leave? And investigating them there was the temerity they could not countenance. Who dare go against the Reddy brothers whose political battle was being fought by proxy by Sriramulu, on behalf of his mentors out of public view?

This trend of the use of power other than merely political is now strengthening, where ideology, if any, is only pretence. Surely, Bellary, with its illegal mines closed, is an existential crisis for those who depended on it for a livelihood. There are thousands and thousands of such people at a loose end now. Instead seeking a remedy against illegality and resumption of jobs, the voters apparently chose to side with the Robin Hood became rich and also, in the bargain, enabled jobs.

This is seen in virtually all constituencies where one type of control or the other -- caste to religion, lobbies to interest groups -- are what drives politics, that version of politics which ensures the powerful's elections to the legislative bodies, gram panchayats to the parliament. Terror -- or potential to terrorising -- is one element of the arsenal of these powerful people.

Take for instance Maharashtra. Cooperatives are the means by which votes are captured. Be with the sugar baron or else find that your sugarcane is cut late enough to ensure it is too dry for the maws of the factory and weighs less; you get, thus, paid less. Be with the powers and you get a fief -- another small cooperative, from which the baron has to be kowtowed to. Political party identity is only a differentiator of groups, not ideology. Like they say, all are the same.

Power begets more power, power because of wealth earned by following the law or despite itIt can come being politically powerful, like with the H D Deve Gowda's who held the Bangalore airport project to ransom because their land interests coincided with the political interests. It also comes from be a celebrity. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle can subvert an entire government's plan to build a flyover that could benefit the city.

It also comes from being close to someone else, like a goon with political patina on him.

It is on the strength of such power that democracy is negated, its purpose neutralised, making it, in a sense, a guided democracy much worse than what Malaysia saw during Mahathir Mohamad -- at least there was growth there. Here, one sees only the growth of the richer, especially the politicians. You can't throw a brick without hitting a crorepati MP or MLA and we do not know of their hidden-away wealth.  Democracy is to their benefit. Only.

Mahesh Vijapurkar