From police to politics, now a trend in Karnataka

Karnataka

After years of donning khaki, several former policemen are lining up to be full-time politicians in Karnataka, where elections are due this year.

In the last few weeks, two long-standing Bangalore police officers have voluntarily retired so that they can contest. Several other former policemen will contest, or hope to get a ticket from one party or the other.

The trend began in 2008 but policemen have so far had a lean run in politics. Unlike in 2008, when the perceived reason was that policemen were seeking succour in politics because of a strict corruption watch by a proactive lokayukta, the driving force this time seems to be caste equations and the prospects they offer.

The two who have recently retired both belong to the Lingayat caste that has dominated the maiden BJP government in Karnataka. M K Solabeshwarappa, 59, was an assistant commissioner of police till he was relieved in January, a few months ahead of his scheduled retirement. He has applied for the Congress ticket for Hanagal in the north Karnataka district of Haveri, which is dominated by Lingayats.

Lokeshwar, 53, was an inspector who was considered former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa's Man Friday in the police. He is guaranteed a ticket for Tiptur in central Karnataka from the KJP, Lingayat strongman Yeddyurappa's new party.

Lokeshwar's closeness to Yeddyurappa is best illustrated by a public fit he threw in February 2012 against IAS officer I S N Prasad, principal secretary to the chief minister, after turning out in civvies for Yeddyurappa's birthday. The former inspector served as a point man to Yeddyurappa for the rank and file of the police force, and for anyone seeking favours from the then chief minister. Even senior officers were wary of skipping parties he threw in his hometown for fear of a fallout with Lokeshwar.

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