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Deepa Balakrishnan
Monday , March 18, 2013

Battle bugles: polls and beyond

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Caught with their chaddis down? The BJP suffered one of its worst election debacles since it came to power five years ago in the recent urban local body (ULB) elections. Though publicly the saffron party has been saying that this is not an indicator of worse times to come, many in the party agree they don't have too much hope of coming back to power in the Assembly polls two months from now. Even in coastal Karnataka districts like Dakshina kannada and Uttar Kannada, the BJP suffered a drubbing like no other, though these are considered traditionally BJP bastions. Udupi perhaps presented the worst picture - the BJP lost in a place where they have never lost. As one embarrassed member of the khaki-chaddi brigade put it: "We held many sangh activities from the sangh parivar... we thought we had attracted 1.5 lakh people who....

Tuesday , January 29, 2013

Bed-time stories, with a twist

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The Hungry Crow. The Hare and the Tortoise. The Cunning Fox. The Lion and the Mouse. The Stones and the Animals. The Grandfather and the Waterfalls. The Tiger-man and the Monkeys. When the shift happened, is quite blurred. I think it was probably one day when I returned from a day-long shoot in Mandya to cover protests over the Cauvery water release. I had worked from 6 am and was just about ready to fall into bed when I reached home. My two-year-old son, though, had taken his three-hour nap that afternoon and was in no mood to settle down for the day... He wanted a bedtime story. The hares and tortoises were now passé, though... he was bored of them. That's when I vaguely remembered reading some pre-school-advisory of his that sharing a bit of what the parents do at work can bring a child....

Friday , October 05, 2012

Anything can happen over tears

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Above all, it's Bhookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa's ability to cry that's got most politicians worried. He's done it before, and they all know he can do it again. Five years back, before the 2008 elections, he rode his party to victory primarily on a sympathy wave. He (and his party, but that's not important) had been "betrayed" by the JDS which had promised to make him chief minister and then went back on its promise. He went to the people with tears, played the part of a wronged man, and they responded with votes. Even in the Bangalore region, where the Congress and JDS had earlier held sway. A few months after becoming CM, Yeddy shed copious tears when the Reddy brothers told him to drop his favourite minister Shobha Karandlaje from the Cabinet - in fact, he was crying on TV while talking about the conditions....

Monday , May 28, 2012

Power Wars

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A regimen of disbelief When you attend any event surrounding B S Yeddyurappa, you'd be surprised by the stubborn disbelief over the fact that he's no longer CM. Partly, it's perhaps the new sycophancy that's set in --- or been brought in - among his 'loyalists'. Ask them the chief minister's home number, and they'll give you the number of Yeddyurappa's home. When you talk of Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda, they will tell you: So what if Gowda attracts a crowd in Bangalore. All the way from Tumkur (just out of Bangalore) to north Karnataka, the people only know one CM and that's Yeddyurappa. It almost feels like Yeddyurappa refuses to believe he's an ex. He may no longer lord over the state but he can't stop hankering after the post - he considers it 'rightfully' his. Denied, he'll cry, threaten, throw tantrums and generally....

Tuesday , September 27, 2011

The South Diary

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'Grooming' them right After a hectic fortnight of politics and another hectic fortnight of Anna Hazare's fast-protest, Heggadadevanakote was heaven on earth. A little bit of rustic fervour, a larger bit of forest, good-ol'-Mysore food and some very simple and nice people... and the story of Manju. I met Manju at one of the tribal 'haadis' (hamlets) in HD Kote. He's working as a naturalist at a resort; was earlier working at the same resort as a tribal dancer-entertainer. But that's just by-the-way. Manju, I was told, married a childhood sweetheart of his a few years back. His wife, I was told, had earlier eloped with another man for six months and later come back to her family and then married Manju. Now in a typical Gowda set-up, a tactful description would've termed this a scandal. But among the Kadu Kurubas, that was quite all-right. In fact, it....

Saturday , October 17, 2009

After The Deluge

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Sacred lives For two days, the government did yoga and meditated on how to improve its standing among the people. For two whole days after Dasara, when lakhs of farmers were fleeing their flooded homes, the sarkar was busy in its refresher camp at the Suttur math in Mysore. And then suddenly, on the morning of October 2nd, high level meetings were called and strategies discussed as the seriousness of the deluge in north Karnataka sank in. One of the first measures? Send a chopper with the Rural Development Minister Shoba Karandlaje to rescue the sacred swamis of Mantralaya. There were hundreds stranded on the top floors of lodges and hotels at the same time in Mantralaya - which by the way does not even exist within the State's jurisdiction - though it's easier to reach there from Raichur in Karnataka, the temple town is in Andhra....

Sunday , July 12, 2009

From here and there

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Management funda It was once a clean white board - now filled with belligerant figures (I mean, of the number kind) and symbols of every language from the Greeks. I'm talking about a white board I found in the chamber of an IIM Professor whom I had gone to interview - it was a six-by-six white board up on a wall, with blue-marker markings of what I thought was a complicated mathematical formula. The professor explained that it was a theory put forward by a PhD student of his... I was impressed... this is the stuff PhDs from IIMs are made of! 'What theory, oh mighty prof?' I wanted to know. "Well, he wanted to explain a marketing phenomenon... some products - like say, cooking oil, are priced lesser if you buy it in bulk. Some products - mainly luxury products like cosmetics and....

Friday , May 29, 2009

Things you didn't know about Krishna, Moily and Kharge

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Some things you may not know about... S M Krishna a) The suave, US-educated lawyer saw politics first-hand first in America - when he was part of John F Kennedy's campaign in student days. b) He rode a cycle to court on his first day to work as a lawyer. c) He has a keen interest in fashion designing - so much that Kannada tabloids labelled him 'Tailor Krishna' and speculated that he'd have been a tailor (for want of a Kannada translation for 'designer') if he hadn't taken up politics. d)'Sullu Helisida Krishna' (The Krishna who got people to tell 'lies') is the headline that ran in some Kannada papers when he allowed, as Assembly speaker, the word 'lie' ('sullu' in Kannada) to be used in the Assembly. Until then, 'lying' or 'lies' were considered 'unparliamentary' and MLAs were asked to use the term 'far from the....

Tuesday , May 05, 2009

Amar Akbar Anthony in Bangalore

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Whew! The sparring and the name-calling is over. And at the end of all that 'breaking your arm' and 'cutting your head' speeches that we've endured in the last few weeks from our (yes, 'honourable') netas, I'm left feeling sick. Maybe I haven't seen enough of the past 14 General Elections, but as gruesome speeches go, this election has certainly been like some mafia novel, live. Amar, Akbar, Anthony And at the very core of all this 'hand-cutting' and 'head-splitting,' are Amar, Akbar and Anthony. And I actually mean core - the Bangalore Central constituency. To many, this constituency has come to mean a remake of that Amitabh-Bachchan film. For, the candidates are PC Mohan (a Hindu) from the BJP, Zameer Ahmed Khan (a Muslim) from the JD(S) and HT Sangliana (a Christian) from the Congress. It's an even fight and a tough fight.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All the Cong's horses

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There were no proclamations of 'Soniaaaaa... I love you' from the crowd, but let's admit it - there was one thing the Sonia Gandhi rally did to all the Cong's horses and all the Cong's men in Karnataka - they sat together for a good hour and a half, which is no mean achievement! The 'Bharat Nirman rally' (yes, that's what it was called, though everyone thought it was just called the 'Sonia Gandhi rally') in Davangere saw some 2 lakh plus people from across Karnataka coming together to listen to the desh ki bahu. (Or perhaps they just came to see her helicopter... there was certainly a clamour to take a look at that.) That's got to be good news for a party that's been a divided house for a long time in the state - one joke goes that there are more factions of the Karnataka Congress....


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