Strong contender for CM’s post from Mysore after 30 years

With Congress leader Siddaramaiah being one of the top contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, will the political ascendancy of Mysore rise again? This question is doing the rounds among political pundits here.

This is for the first time in over 30 years that a strong contender for the post has emerged from Mysore, according to political observers.

D. Devaraj Urs, the tallest leader of modern Karnataka and the man credited with ushering in social reforms, was born at Kalahalli in Hunsur taluk of the district. He was the Chief Minister twice — 1972–77 and 1978–80. However, after him, no political leader from the district emerged as a strong contender for the Chief Minister’s post.

Krishna’s bond

S.M. Krishna, who was the Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, though a native of Somanahalli in Maddur taluk of Mandya district, has a bond with Mysore and was a student of Sri Ramakrishna Vidyashala here.

Among the other former Chief Ministers who had some links with Mysore are Kadidal Manjappa, who was the Chief Minister for a few months in 1956, and Kengal Hanumanthaiya, who was at the helm of affairs from 1952 to 1956. Both Manjappa and Hanumanthaiya were students of the Maharaja College in the city but were not natives of Mysore.

The late M. Rajasekhara Murthy was among the few outstanding political leaders who emerged from Mysore. He was elected from T. Narasipur five times and had come close to be a contender for the Chief Minister’s post.

He was a close associate of Chief Ministers S. Nijalingappa and Veerendra Patil and was the Finance Minister in the late 1980s and Revenue Minister in the M. Veerappa Moily Cabinet. But differences with the Congress over the choice of Mr. Krishna as the KPCC chief in 1998-99 made him quit the party, after which he joined the BJP.

Aziz Sait of the Congress, who represented Narasimharaja Assembly segment six times, held various portfolios, including Transport portfolio in the Devaraj Urs Cabinet, but he did not emerge as a contender for the Chief Minister’s post.

Senior journalist and political observer Srinivasan said, “For the first time in over 30 years a strong contender for the Chief Minister’s post has emerged from Mysore and it is a welcome development.”

Neglect

Though Mysore has often been described as the second most important city in Karnataka after Bangalore and touted to be the cultural capital of the State, it has suffered neglect over the years and this has been attributed to the region’s declining political clout.

Mysore, however, did see a revival of its fortunes when Mr. Krishna became the Chief Minister. His government implemented a project to improve road connectivity between Bangalore and Mysore.

He was also instrumental in signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Railways for State funding of track-doubling between the two cities, which is expected to change the socio-economic profile of the region.

Slew of promises

Subsequent Chief Ministers, including N. Dharam Singh, H.D. Kumaraswamy, B.S. Yeddyurappa and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, made a slew of promises keeping Mysore in the focus. Mr. Gowda announced the extension of the proposed high-speed train linking Chennai and Bangalore to Mysore while his predecessor, Mr. Yeddyurappa, sanctioned Rs. 100 crore for development of city infrastructure. But there were no changes in the socio-economic conditions in the region.

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