With only four of its 19 chief ministers lasting their full tenure in the last four decades, volatility and instability have been the hallmark of Karnataka’s politics.
Three chief ministers — D Devaraj Urs, SM Krishna and Siddaramaiah — have completed their terms after 1973, when Mysore State was rechristened Karnataka. In the years prior to that, beginning 1956, former Congress president S Nijalingappa was chief minister for nearly six years, during the third and fourth assemblies of the State.
Urs was chief minister between 1972 and till the end of 1977, during the fifth Assembly. Post Emergency, the Janata Party government dissolved the government for a few days, but the Congress came back to power in 1978, and Urs got a second term. However, after two years, due to differences with then prime minister Indira Gandhi, Urs quit and R Gundu Rao replaced him in 1980. Rao continued as CM for three years.
The seventh Assembly was short-lived and it saw Ramakrishna Hegde at the helm for almost two years.
In the eighth Assembly, Hegde managed two-thirds majority, but resigned following a remark by the High Court, only to withdraw the resignation three days later. Later, when allegations of phone-tapping was raised against him in 1988, he resigned and was replaced by SR Bommai, who occupied the office for a year. President’s rule followed Bommai’s innings as CM.
The Congress’ Veerendra Patil became chief minister for about a year during the ninth Assembly. S Bangarappa and M Veerappa Moily followed Patil as Congress chief ministers in the five years between 1989 and 1994.
Janata Dal reclaimed power in the tenth Assembly and HD Deve Gowda became chief minister for the first time in December 1994. He continued in the post till he became prime minister of the United Front government in 1996. JH Patel succeeded Gowda and completed the tenure.
The eleventh Assembly favoured the Congress, and SM Krishna became chief minister. The twelfth Assembly election was held with the Lok Sabha polls in 2001 and the Congress retained power. Dharam Singh was the first choice for the post.
The party lost majority as the JD(S) and BJP joined forces. HD Kumaraswamy became Chief Minister in 2006, but he soon gave way to a seven-day regime of the BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa, the party’s first government in southern India.
The State was under President’s rule for about six months as the BJP could not prove its majority. Yeddyurappa returned to power in 2008, in the thirteenth Assembly. He ruled for more than three years, during which time he set in motion the infamous ‘Operation Lotus’, which brought many MLAs from the Opposition camp to the BJP. However, Yeddyurappa had to resign because of the allegations of corruption against him. The BJP replaced him, initially with DV Sadananda Gowda and later with Jagadish Shettar, each of whom got one year at the helm.
In 2013, Siddaramaiah helped the Congress win on its own and retain power for five years. But this time round, history seems to be repeating itself in Karnataka.