Lotus Bloom, ISRO's Moon Mission, Infosys Controversy: Big Events That Dotted 2019 Calendar in Karnataka
The elections had a strong start for BJP, which saw stalwarts like former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda bite the dust even in traditional strongholds, undone by a saffron surge that swept through Karnataka.
File photo of Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa.
Bengaluru: Within a year after it withered, the lotus bloomed again in Karnataka in 2019, when BJP strongman B S Yediyurappa ushered in the saffron party's second government in two years following high octane political drama, which saw the fall of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government.
This comes after city-headquartered ISRO's near entry into the history books with its yet-so-close yet-so-far Chandrayaan-2 mission, the Infosys controversy and various high-profile deaths, including that of billionaire tycoon V G Siddhartha, all major events that dotted the 2019 calendar in the Karnataka.
The year began with a campaign blitz for the Lok Sabha polls that saw a saffron sweep. However, this ended on a rather unpleasant note for the ruling BJP, with the anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru turning violent and leaving two dead.
The elections had a strong start for BJP, which saw stalwarts like former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda bite the dust even in traditional strongholds, undone by a saffron surge that swept through the state. This left just two of the 28 seats for the opposition.
The party’s victory comes after political foes Congress and JD(S) joined hands to keep the BJP away in 2018. But the H D Kumaraswamy-led government ultimately fell a year later after defections by its MLAs and amidst poaching charges against the BJP. The then JD(S)-Congress government ultimately collapsed due to internal differences after its rout in the parliamentary elections.
In fact, trouble began for the Kumaraswamy government as early as February, with several Congress legislators skipping the Governor's address to the joint session and initial part of the budget session in defiance of the party whip, indicating the turbulent days ahead.
The first wicket of the coalition fell in the form of Chincholi Congress MLA Umesh Jadhav, who resigned in March to join the BJP and went on to become its Gulbarga Lok Sabha MP, defeating Congress stalwart Mallikarjun Kharge.
In July, the coalition government's miseries worsened when 14 Congress-JD(S) legislators resigned and camped in Mumbai, their number subsequently increasing to 17. Chief Minister Kumaraswamy subsequently sought and lost the vote of confidence on the floor of the assembly, paving the way for Yeddiyurappa's return to the saddle.
With the numbers on his side, the BJP strongman proved majority on the floor of the house, even as 17 Congress-JD(S) legislators who were responsible for the fall of the coalition government were disqualified by the then Speaker under the anti-defection law until the term of the assembly ended. However, the dissidents successfully challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court and 13 of them contested the December 5 by-election on a BJP ticket as per the arrangement.
With 11 of them getting re-elected and Yediyurappa crossing the minimum majority mark by a comfortable distance, the much needed stability for the government was ensured.
It was no good hunting for allies Congress and JD(S) in the Lok Sabha elections, as they were routed and won just one seat each out of the total 28. Stalwarts like Deve Gowda, veteran Congress leaders like Kharge, K H Muniyappa and Veerappa Moily tasted defeat.
Flood fury ravaged parts of the state on two different occasions, leaving nearly 100 dead in about 22 districts, causing severe damage to property. The Yeddiyurapa government came under criticism for the handling of the situation and its alleged failure in getting adequate and quick relief from the central government, despite having a BJP-led government at the Centre.
The Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate action against prominent politicians like Congress strongman D K Shivakumar and G Parameshwara, phone tapping and "audio bomb" controversy, an ugly brawl between two Congress legislators at a resort and debate over removal of lessons on 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan from history textbooks also made national headlines.
The deaths of prominent personalities like Pejawar math head Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, Shivakumara Swamiji, the 111-year old head of the Siddaganga Math, noted playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad, and the mysterious death of billionaire coffee tycoon Siddhartha, left thousands in the state mourning. Siddhartha had allegedly committed suicide, leaving India Inc. shell-shocked.
Hosting the country's Information Technology capital Bengaluru, the state saw IT major Infosys face a series of whistle-blower complaints alleging "unethical practices" and "misdeeds" against its top officials, including Chief Executive Officer Salil Parekh.
At Wipro, its founder Azim H Premji, who turned the small vegetable oil maker into a USD 8.5 billion software behemoth, retired as the company's head and handed over the baton to his son Rishad.
The country's space agency, the city-headquartered ISRO, launched a slew of successful missions, including for foreign clients, but what stood out was the meticulously planned lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, although it failed to achieve its complete objective.
ISRO suffered a setback when the country's second lunar mission came very close to a historic achievement before losing contact with its lander Vikram just 2.1 km above the Moon's surface on September 7 while attempting a soft landing. ISRO subsequently claimed that 90 to 95 per cent of the mission objectives of Chandrayaan 2 have been accomplished and it would continue to contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the lander.
The lander was later located by the orbiter of the satellite, but failed to establish any communication.
The row over the coalition government's decision to convert the lease of 3,667 acres to JSW Steel at Ballari into sale in accordance with the initial agreement was among the other developments that marked the year.
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