Curtains fall on a charismatic career

Curtains fall on a charismatic career

S Bangarappa: October 26, 1933 - December 26, 2011In a political career spanning 44 years, Sarekoppa Bangarappa saw many highs and lows. But he was one politician in Karnataka who did not repent his decisions.

His impulsive decisions, at times, made his political career take a nosedive. But he had no regrets whatsoever. His my-way-or-the-highway attitude made him distinct from others in politics.

Bangarappa’s socialist odyssey began in the mid-60s. By the time he embraced the JD(S) in December 2010, he had associated himself with five parties and floated two parties of his own.

He represented Sorab in the Legislative Assembly seven times since 1967, and Shimoga in the Lok Sabha four times. He had created a record by representing Soraba in the Assembly for 25 years and was once called the ‘Solillada Saradara’.
He was the most known face in Soraba and won just on the power of his name. The party never mattered to the voter. This was the political strength of Bangarappa.

While the Karnataka Vikas Party floated in 1972 died a premature death, the Karnataka Congress Party (KCP) showed the promise of developing into a good regional party in 1994. The KCP secured 7.5 per cent of the total votes polled in the Assembly elections and packed off the Congress to make way for the Janata Dal government.

The KCP could probably have been a force to reckon with had Bangarappa continued it. But for reasons best known to him, he wound it up. This, despite the KCP managing to win 11 MLA seats. He ended up merging the KCP with the Congress.
After losing the Shimoga parliamentary seat in 1998 as a KCP nominee to Ayanoor Manjunath of the Congress, Bangarappa became the Congress MP in 1999.

In 2004, he managed to retain the seat but as a BJP candidate. But he resigned the next year to join the Samajawadi Party and was credited with becoming the first Samajawadi MP from Karnataka. He resigned again before the elections to join the Congress. His party hopping, however, did not yield the desired results. He lost the seat to B Y Raghavendra of BJP in 2009. After keeping a low profile for sometime, he joined the JD(S) in 2010.  

Party hopper

Bangarappa became an MLA six times, but his worst defeat came when he lost the Shikaripur battle to BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa in 2008.

In the same election, his son, Madhu Bangarappa, lost the Sorab Assembly seat to H Halappa of the BJP. Halappa was almost like a member of the Bangarappa  family before he joined the BJP.

How did Bangarappa manage to adapt  to various parties and share dais with leaders of various background? He joined the Congress thrice, he joined the Karnataka Kranti Ranga in 1982 along with Nazeer Saab and M Raghupathi.

He mustered the courage to float his own party Karnataka Congress Party (KCP) in 1994. He wore a red cap and bicycled in the Shimoga parliamentary constituency to ensure that the SP opened an account in the State.

According to M Raghupati, spokesperson of the JD(S), Bangarappa’s strength was to feel the pulse of the people and conduct himself accordingly. Recalling his long association with the departed leader, Raghupati said, “Bangarappa, Nazeer Saab and
I travelled extensively across the State in 1982 to take on the Congress.

Bangarappa, no doubt, used to be the main attraction because of his oratory skills.
He had nurtured his constituency well. Hence, his switching loyalty from one party to another did not come in his way of him being elected to either the Assembly or the Lok Sabha. His community stood behind him.”

On his part, Bangarappa never spoke eloquently about ideology in politics. For him, being the leader and winning mattered.

In an interaction with the media, Bangarappa had once said: “Ideology is just like a piece of rubber which can be stretched in any direction or fashion one wants.”
No doubt he lived up to this. He began his career with Samyukta Socialist Party and became a saffronite in 2004 by winning the Shimoga MP seat on a BJP ticket. He defected from the Congress to the BJP even after the Gujarat riots.

A versatile politician

Raghupati recalled that Bangarappa was a serious politician but not full-time. He had varied interests in life. He loved Hindustani music. He wanted to act in movies, but that did not materialise. He loved watching plays. He never missed an opportunity to play ‘Dollu Kunita’. He used to practice yoga. His love for playing shuttle badminton is wellknown. Bangarappa was a health freak.

He was very active until he developed some health complications a couple of years ago.” Bangarappa also performed in various plays such as Krishnarjuna Kalaga, Krishna Sandhana, Sudhanva Kalaga. In 1967, he had performed the role of Basavanna in the play titled Jagajyothi Basaveshwar during his tenure as MLA.

Known for his trademark aviator sunglasses and khadi silk shirts, Bangarappa was the first minister from the Idiga community.

He was the minister of State for Home in the Devaraj Urs Cabinet in 1973. But over a period, he emerged as the leader of backward classes though not comparable to Urs. He had considerable sway over voters of Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, Chikmagalur and parts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts.

The making of Bangarappa

In the demise of Sarekoppa Bangarappa, the undivided Shimoga district has lost a third former chief minister –– two others being Kadidal Manjappa and J H Patel. Bangarappa, who hailed from Kubatur village, Sorab taluk in Shimoga district, was the chief minister from October 17, 1990, to November 19, 1992. He was associated with several political parties including the Congress, BJP,  JD(S), Samajwadi, Karnataka Vikas  and Karnataka Congress. He had represented the Legislative Assembly seven times and Lok Sabha four times. Bangarappa was born on October 26, 1933, at Kubatur village.

Having completed his intermediate in Shiralakoppa, Shikaripur taluk, he moved to Mysore and pursued BA at the Maharaja College. Bangarappa was known for his recital of Kannada and English poems in his public speeches and this was because Kannada literature was one of his optional subjects during under graduation. Bangarappa began his career as an advocate in his home district representing the cause of peasants who were oppressed by landlords. Each village had a landlord and the rest of the villagers were hired as peasants. Socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia took part in the Kagodu Satyagraha in 1950s to fight for the rights of the peasants. Inspired by Lohia’s thoughts, Bangarappa joined the Kagodu Satyagraha.


S Bangarappa had a chequered political career spanning over four decades:
* Enters State Assembly in 1967 as Socialist Party candidate; later splits Socialist
Party and forms Krantikari Samajwadi Paksha.
* Joins Congress (R) in 1977 during emergency.
* Quits Congress in 1983 and joins Karnataka Kranti Ranga.
* Returns to Congress in 1985.
* Becomes chief minister on October 17, 1990.
* Resigns as chief minister on November 19, 1992.
* Floats Karnataka Congress Party in 1994.
* Wins Shimoga parliamentary seat in 1996.
* Floats Karnataka Vikas Party in 1997.
* Returns to Congress in 1999 and wins Shimoga parliamentary seat.
* Quits Congress in 2004.
* Joins BJP in 2004 and wins Shimoga parliamentary seat.
* Quits BJP in 2005.
*Joins SP in 2005 and wins Shimoga parliamentary seat in the byelection.
* Quits SP in 2008 and joins Congress.
* Loses to B S Yeddyurappa in 2008 Assembly election in Shikaripura.
* Loses to B Y Raghavendra in the 2009 parliamentary election from Shimoga seat
* Quits Congress in 2010 and joins JD(S).

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