"Devara mele aane..." (I swear by God) is the beaten line that most politicians in Karnataka, almost, always take refuge under, whenever they are challenged, cornered. They feel that proving their worth before the Almighty would make them feel highly moralistic and credible in the eyes of the people. On most occasions, it has been a battle of ego, never mind the blind belief that they are propagating through their swear acts. On Tuesday, Water Resources Minister MB Patil joined the legion of politicians who swore by the gods to prove their worth.
Minister Patil had claimed that the Siddaganga seer Shivakumara swamiji had supported the fight for separate religion tag for Lingayats. The minister's statement came as a surprise and shock for the Lingayat community who is still divided over the separate religion tag for them. A section of the community is led by Mathe Mahadevi and other seers are demanding to exclude Lingayat from Hindu religion claiming that it is a religion in its existence. The minister had claimed that he would swear by Siddaganga seer - who is considered the 'Walking God' (Nadedaaduva Devaru) - of speaking the truth. "The seer's words were crystal clear to me. I have neither distorted his words nor misunderstood. His words were clear to me," the minister sobbed.
His statements drew widespread criticism. When even the mutt issued statements denying the latter's words, the distraught minister made an emotional vow to shave off his head and was ready to suffer the curse along with his mother, wife and children, if he was wrong. He nearly likened himself to 12th-century social reformer Basavanna saying that even Basavanna had to undergo the test to prove himself right. "Today, it's my turn. It's the test of my life," Patil said.
In fact, the swear politics was made famous by former chief ministers BS Yeddyurappa and HD Kumaraswamy. Karnataka was witness to a rare ego fight that almost unfolded before Dharmasthala temple, considered the 'Nyaya degula' (Temple of Justice). Former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa had thrown an open challenge to JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy to come and swear before Dharmasthala to prove his allegations of corruption and nepotism on him. The two were set for a major showdown in June 2011 at the temple town. While Kumaraswamy submitted before the God that he would stand by his charges, Yeddyurappa came much later that day, and he simply prayed before the deity, than taking the test. He had later told that he was asked by the party high command not to mix religion with politics.
Others who followed suit are:
Kimmane Ratnakar was the former education minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet. Following the mysterious death of 14-year-old girl, Nanditha in his home constituency, Thirthahalli, the BJP had levelled accusations on Ratnakar that he was allegedly shielding the culprits responsible for the death of the girl. Reportedly hurt over their accusations, the former minister decided to take the truth test to prove himself "innocence". Ratnakar had taken the truth test at Rameshwara temple in Thirthahalli.
Shobha Karandlaje, former energy minister the BJP government had faced severe accusations of corruption by JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy. Kumaraswamy had questioned the integrity of Karandalje accusing her of running a company, Kapila-Manjushri Apparels Private Limited with a salary of Rs 15,000. Hurt by this, Karandlaje had thrown a challenge at him asking him to come to Dharmasthala and prove his charge against her. She had gone on to say that she would quit politics if Kumaraswamy proved his charges against her. The expected show-down, however, did not happen.
Zameer Ahmed, now expelled JD(S) leader too had resorted to swear politics. He had claimed that it was Kumarswamy who allegedly asked the JD(S) leaders for cross voting in the Rajya Sabha polls that eventually led to the defeat of the party candidate BM Farookh. Zameer had told media persons that "I believe in God. Let Kumaraswamy come to Dharmasthala. I will bring Quran and take the truth test." Kumaraswamy did not attach much significance to his words, this just fell flat.