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Karnataka: A chequered past

By Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore
October 09, 2007 20:05 IST
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It is official. Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur's recommendation for imposition of President's rule in the state has been considered and the Cabinet has approved the same. However, Karnataka is not new to such a political development. In fact, this would be the fifth time that President's rule is being imposed in Karnataka.

The President's rule was imposed in the past -- Thrice when the Congress was in power in the state and once when erstwhile Janata Party was ruling the state.

For the younger generation in Bangalore, it will be a new phenomenon. There are many who say they do not know how the system will function under such a form of governance. However, old timers in the IT city believe that the situation brings about a sense of peace in the state with no politicking happening.

The first time the state was under the President's rule was in 1971. During this period, Congress leader Veerendra Patil was the chief minister of the state. He ruled the state between May 29, 1968 and March 18, 1971 before his government was reduced to a minority. As there was no other option before the then Governor, G S Pathak, he recommended the imposition of President's rule in the state. The assembly remained dissolved between March 19, 1971 and March 20, 1972.

However, this changed in the coming years with the new rule stating that a President's rule can remain in force for a maximum of six months only.

Karnataka then went in for polls in 1972 and saw stable governance for the next five years. The fifth assembly of Karnataka was historic, as the term of the assembly had been extended by one additional year vide 42nd
Constitutional Amendment Act, a rule which was later changed.

After completing five years in office, Devraj Urs, the then chief minister had to step down thanks to the controversial Karnataka Land Reforms Act, thus creating political turmoil in the state. The then governor of Karnataka, Uma Shankar Dixit, recommended the imposition of President's rule, which remained in force between December 31, 1977 and February 28, 1978.

President's rule was imposed in Karnataka for a third time between April 21, 1989 and November 30, 1989 after a recommendation was made by then Governor, A N Banerjee. This time, it was Janata Party leader Ramkrishna Hegde who was chief minister of state. He dissolved the assembly and went in for elections.

The Janata Party came back to power and ruled between 1985 and 1989. During this period, there were two chief ministers -- Hegde and S R Bommai. However, the Bommai government was reduced to a minority in 1989. Governor A N Banerjee had to once again dismiss the government.

The Governor's action was challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court held that no chief minister can be dismissed unless he is given an opportunity to hold a floor test.

In the year 1990, the rule was imposed for a very short period after the Veerendra Patil was removed from the post of chief minister by the Congress high command. The then governor, P Venakatasubbaiah, had recommended the imposition of President's rule. This pattern of governance remained in force between October 10, 1990 and October 17, 1990 before S Bangarappa took over as chief minister of Karnataka.
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