As 2015 draws to a close, we focus on personalities who made headlines. Some stood out for their achievements while others figured in scandals and controversies
Darkness in The Temple of Justice
Y Bhaskar Rao and Y Ashwin
The lengthy drama involving Justice Y Bhaskar Rao and his son Y Ashwin, which ensured notoriety for the two, concluded with the former’s resignation on December 8. The seventh Lokayukta of Karnataka had gone on leave from July 27, after Ashwin was arrested on charges of running an extortion ring. Ashwin and his cohorts allegedly called up government officials and threatened them with Lokayukta raids if they did not pay up huge ransoms. After Ashwin was arrested on July 27 in Hyderabad, Rao remained absent from office and did not hand over charge to the Upa Lokayukta, and that brought the work of the anti-corruption agency to a halt. Motions were initiated in the Legislative Assembly and Council for the removal of Rao, but he resigned before they could be carried forward. New information obtained under the Right to Information Act suggests Rao helped close a police complaint to favour a real estate agent. Even prior to his appointment in February 2013, he was allegedly involved in a land scam.
A Bold Writer is Shot Point-blank
Prof M M Kalburgi
The renowned scholar and former vice-chancellor of Kannada University, Hampi, was shot dead in cold-blood on Sunday, August 30. No one has been arrested for the assassination yet. Investigation by the CID has hit a dead end and no progress is evident even four months after the crime at Kalburgi’s doorstep in Dharawad. The killing was linked with the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, sparking a nationwide debate on intolerance. The delay in nabbing the killers prompted Kannada writer Chandrashekar Patil to return his Pampa award. Others followed, joining what came to be called the ‘Award Wapsi’ campaign. Two months after the assassination, the discovery of a body raised curiosity. The face resembled a sketch released by the police to trace the killers. However, police dismissed the suggestion that it was Rudra Patil, one of the suspects.
Grammy Awardee Clicks Some Selfies
Winds of Samsara, Ricky Kej’s collaborative work with Wouter Kellerman,South Africam music composer, won him a Grammy for best New Age Album of 2014. He was also nominated for several other awards. After the announcement of the award, he met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and clicked a selfie with him. The 34-year old aspires to work with noted composers such as Hans Zimmer.
Teen Golfer Shines on European Course
The 17-year-old became the first Indian ever to win a qualifying school event on an international tour, after she won the European Tour Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier. Aditi will now have full playing rights for 2016, when she will attempt to climb several spots above her current official women’s rank of 471. This is one of several firsts by the promising golfer, who in 2011 became the youngest amateur to win a pro event.
Mysuru Gets a Prince Once More
Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar
In keeping with the tradition of the Wadiyars of Mysuru, Yaduveer was crowned the 27th titular Maharaja of Mysuru in May. Following the death of Srikantadatta Wadiyar in December 2013, a scion had not been selected as Srikantadatta had no male children. Queen Pramoda Devi Wadiyar decided to adopt the 23-year-old and crown him successor, even though it left some in the family disgruntled. Yaduveer also officiated at the Dasara rituals this year. However, the festival was muted because of the drought.
Tipu’s Name and A Playwright’s Woes
On November 10, even as some groups were protesting the celebration of Tipu Jayanti by the Karnataka government, Jnanpith laureate Girish Karnad said the Bengaluru airport could have been named after the military hero rather than the city’s founder Kempegowda. His rationale: Other airports in the country have been named after freedom fighters. This sparked protests both from the BJP and JD(S). With several Vokkaliga associations joining the demonstrations, the controversy acquired a caste dimension. Later, Karnad apologised and explained his position. He also received death threats during the furore.
Pontiff is Caught in a Sordid Scam
A woman accused the pontiff of Sri Ramachandrapura Mutt, in the coastal Uttara Kannada district, of sexually exploiting her. After the CID filed a chargesheet, he was summoned to court on December 21, which he skipped claiming he was unwell. He had also refused to undergo medical tests, and had approached the court seeking exemption from personal appearance.
A Hero in Office is Sorely Missed
D K Ravi
The IAS officer was found hanging inside his apartment in Koramangala, Bengaluru, in March. Even before the death was probed, it was dubbed a murder by the real estate mafia. The intensity of the furore that followed forced the state government to initiate a CBI probe. However, the Central agency concluded he had committed suicide. It was also revealed that he was besotted with a female IAS officer, whom he had tried to contact before committing suicide. Highly regarded for his sincerity and integrity, he was posthumously accused of venturing into real estate and making an “improper attempt” to acquire 50 acres.
Lofty Post Aspirant Agrees to be Minister
Once tipped to be chief minister, Parameshwara’s demand for deputy chief ministership had delayed the Cabinet re-shuffle. After several rounds of discussion with the party high command, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah replaced K J George as home minister and handed the position to Parameshwara. Rumours about moves within the Congress to replace Siddaramaiah were put to rest after Parameshwara was sworn in.
Flip-Flop for a Lurking Leader
B S Yeddyurappa
The year was a mixed bag for the beleaguered leader. He earned a reprieve in the High Court, but it was short-lived as the Lokayukta police registered a fresh FIR against him, the 16th, based on a CAG report. Yeddyurappa had challenged all 15 FIRs against him in connection with illegal denotification in the High Court. After hearing his case in detail, the High Court reserved the verdict on December 18. It is expected to pronounce the verdict soon. Once the BJP’s biggest leader in Karnataka, Yeddyurappa had maintained a low profile through the year.