Karnataka

`Pendulum’ Shankar swings to the BJP, yet again

In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva or Shankar is known as the destroyer. In the world of Karnataka politics, R Shankar, the lone MLA of the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) from Ranebennur constituency in Haveri district, seems to fancy himself as the destroyer of the state government. 

Actually Shankar can lead the HD Kumaraswamy government to doom. Such is its fragile majority and lack of chemistry between the Congress and JD(S) that every loose brick can play a part in bringing the House down. Which is why the Congress-JD(S) has put up with Shankar’s mood swings and tantrums.

Shankar, a former deputy Mayor of Bengaluru, proved to be a giant-killer in the 2018 assembly elections, defeating the then Karnataka assembly speaker KB Koliwad of the Congress by over 4000 votes. Koliwad had in fact, alleged that Siddaramaiah had sabotaged his election. The fact that Shankar is from the Kuruba community, like Siddaramaiah, only strengthened the suspicion. 

Shankar shot into prominence soon after Karnataka delivered a fractured verdict in May 2018. H Nagesh, an independent MLA and he were important in the scheme of things in the hung assembly. On the morning of 17 May, he visited BS Yeddyurappa to tell him he was with the BJP. In the afternoon, he promised support to the Congress-JD(S) combine. But by evening, Shankar had changed his mind and returned to the BJP camp. But once it was nightfall, he did yet another flip-flop landing once again in the alliance camp. 

The three parties ought not to have been surprised with these sharp and unruly U-turns considering that his election symbol was the autorickshaw !

The result of these swings, more wild than a Tarzan, was that Shankar was rewarded with the Forest ministry when the alliance government took charge. But in December 2018, following an assessment that showed him to be a “non-performing minister”, he was dropped from the cabinet. The following month, a miffed Shankar withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) and promised Yeddyurappa that in the event of a floor test, he would be on his side. 

But following a rebellion in the form of senior Congress leader Roshan Baig and fear of political tremors destabilising the government after the alliance’s abysmal showing in the Lok Sabha elections, Shankar was once again wooed by the ruling camp. This time, the Congress however, insisted that he merged his KPJP with it, in order to ensure he could not desert the party like he had done in January 2019. Shankar accepted the offer, his word to Yeddyurappa consigned to the dustbin. 

Shankar along with Nagesh were sworn in as ministers in June. This time, there was a ministry upgrade as well, with Shankar bagging the more plum Municipal Administration portfolio. 

R Shankar submitting his resignation to the Karnataka Governor

But less than a month after he became a minister for the second time, Shankar decided to be a political weathercock. On Monday, Shankar decided to junk his ministry, submitting his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala. And as part of the Standard Operating Procedure adopted since Saturday by all rebel legislators, he took the first flight to Mumbai to join the other campers at Sofitel hotel.

Though swinging like a pendulum has meant Shankar has got his timing right so far, he represents the worst of Karnataka politics. He sees nothing wrong in switching camps the moment one side turns off the tap of goodies or whichever team seems to be gaining in numbers. Shankar epitomises complete lack of ideology and his only mantra seems to be to make hay while the sun shines. 

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