A special state

Karnataka's fractured politics could be mirrored nationally in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls

It was only in 1983 that the state of Karnataka elected its first non-Congress government. Since then, along with assertive neighbour Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka has been a key state where a variety of anti-Congress political experiments have been staged.

Apart from Bihar, it was Karnataka that emerged as an important state for the original Janata Dal in the 1980s and 1990s, leading to the appointment of Deve Gowda as prime minister, howsoever briefly, in the United Front government. Now, the BJP senses that it is a useful state to plot its proposed southern journey from.

The Congress/ Janata Dal (S) was said to rely on what some scholars termed a MOVD alliance, with Muslims, OBCs, Vokkaligas and Dalits, and the BJP, especially after Ramakrishna Hegde moved his Janata Dal into its camp, has tried to make much of the neglect of north Karnataka and the "LIBRA" the Lingayats and the Brahmins. It has, of course, now become clear that these compartments are far from watertight. So, the MOVD alliance was wooed, with B.S. Yeddyurappa, a powerful Lingayat leader formerly of the BJP and currently of the Karnataka Janta Paksha (KJP), determinedly working to form pacts, first with the JD(S) and then, after H.D. Kumaraswamy refused to give up his post as chief minister as per a power-sharing deal, striking out separately, giving his party (the BJP) hope when it had none in south India. In 2008, when he defeated S. Bangarappa, one of the state's better-known former CMs, he crafted a not-quite-simple majority and continued to rule.

Even after corruption charges forced the BJP to pressure him to quit in 2011, he still ruled. He chose his two successors, waging a battle against his party's central leadership, and now, he has finally formed his own regional front. By doing so, he has pushed Karnataka politics and the BJP into an interesting zone. The BJP finds that he is its third important CM to leave the fold, with Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh having left (though they returned), and Vasundhara Raje reportedly having been annoyed enough to have considered leaving.

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