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Bangarappa: The ultimate turncoat politician

Last updated on: December 26, 2011 10:14 IST

Bangarappa: The ultimate turncoat politician

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

From the ultimate leader of the backward classes to the ultimate turncoat, Sarekoppa Bangarappa had an interesting stint in Karnataka politics for 30 years.

The 79-year-old leader who breathed his last in Bengaluru at 0045 hours on Monday was born on October 26, 1933 at Kubatur in Shimoga district of Karnataka.

Having started out his political career some 30 years back, Bangarappa was known to be a fighter. In his constituency in Sorab in Shimoga, he was probably one of the most known faces and he won elections just on his name and the party never mattered to the voter.

All through his political career he positioned himself as a leader of the backward classes. However, over the past 10 years that image changed drastically thanks to his frequent party hopping.

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Image: File photo of Bangarappa


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From being a charismatic leader who enjoyed a daily game of badminton, he came to be known as the biggest turncoat in Karnataka politics. His frequent party changes took the sheen off him and people had stopped considering him seriously.

Bangarappa's critics say that he took sides with parties, which he thought would come to power either at the Centre or the state. This gave the impression that he was power hungry, to the extent that his own party workers never took him seriously.

It is also said that he was one of the most suited examples of a self-centred Indian politician, having no routes of ideologies or principles.

Many have also blamed him for breaking his own family for the sake of power. This was evident during the last elections to the Karnataka assembly. His son Kumar Bangarappa, who was part of the S M Krishna government, was forced out of the party for a brief stint to join the BJP when his father joined the same party which had termed him as the most corrupt chief minister of the state.

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However, Kumar Bangarappa returned to the Congress, indicating a major split within the family. The rift widened further when he roped in his son, Madhu Bangarappa to fight the assembly election on a Samajwadi Party ticket from the Soraba constituency against his other son Kumar who was contesting on a Congress ticket.

But Bangarappa always underplayed the rift. He would tell the media that this was just a family matter and that the latter need not worry about it.

Bangarappa started off his career with the Congress. He was made the chief minister of Karnataka in 1992 under dramatic circumstances when serving chief minister Veerendra Patil was unceremoniously dropped by the Congress at the insistence of late Rajiv Gandhi, who later stated health reasons for this change.


However, Bangarappa remained on the post only for two years and was then replaced by Veerappa Moily.

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Image: (Left) Madhu Bangarappa and Kumar Bangarappa


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Bangarappa was never known to be loyal to any party. He first rebelled against the Congress in 1983 and formed the Karnataka Kranthi Ranga. However, he returned to the Congress to become the chief minister.

During his stint as chief minister, he was known more for his scandals -- the most popular one being the Classik Computer case. He was, however, acquitted in the case following which he maintained a low profile.

After his stint as the chief minister, he remained in the Congress for sometime and when Sonia Gandhi took over the party, he rebelled against her. He went on to form the Karnataka Vikas Party and then the Karnataka Congress Party. However, he soon joined the Bharatiya Janata Party only to walk out of it a couple of years later and join the Samajwadi Party. 

His stint in the Samajwadi Party was an interesting one. He gave up his Soraba constituency to battle against Yeddyurappa in Shikaripura. His candidature was backed by all parties in Karnataka, who thought he was the best leader to beat Yeddyurappa who was BJP's chief ministerial candidate.

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This move even had the BJP worried and to counter this move they put in all their resources in the Shikaripura constituency. However, Bangarappa was trounced by Yeddyurappa.

He then tried his luck again against Yeddyurappa's son, B Y Raghavendra in the Shimoga parliamentary seat only to lose once again.

Following this he joined the Janata Dal (Secular) and was a member of this party when he breathed his last.

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Despite all odds and criticism, Bangarappa had a very lucrative career.

He first became member of the Karnataka legislative assembly in 1967. His first stint as minister was in 1977 when he took charge as the home minister and then as the public works department minister. In 1980, he was made revenue minister and four years later he was the Opposition leader in Karnataka.

He also held the post of agriculture minister in 1989 and went on to become chief ,inister in 1990. In 1996, he was elected to the Lok Sabha. He was re-elected in 1999 and 2003 (but this time on a BJP ticket).

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