Bengaluru: Karnataka Congress MLA D. K. Shivakumar reaffirmed his credentials as the party’s top crisis manager on Saturday, shielding his party’s legislators from poaching attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party, and consequently ending the chief ministership of BJP’s B.S. Yeddyurappa in 55 hours.

Given his track record of keeping members of legislative assembly safe in similar circumstances, the Vokkaliga strongman from Kanakapura was assigned the task of ensuring the MLAs did not stray.

When it became clear that the BJP will need legislators from the Congress or Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), to cross-vote or abstain from Saturday’s confidence vote, Shivakumar bussed the legislators to Eagleton Golf Resort in Bidadi, where they were kept under watch till the House assembled. None of them switched, leading to Yeddyurappa resigning without facing the vote.

“He knows how to give responsibilities and get the job done," said Milind Dharmasena, a close associate of Shivakumar and the general secretary of the Congress state campaign committee.

Shivakumar, who started as a student leader at the R.C. College in Bengaluru, contested his first election and was elected to the zilla panchayat in 1987 when he was 25. Across the years, he has challenged the high-and-mighty of Karnataka politics and won.

Shivakumar was one of the few to successfully take on H.D. Deve Gowda, when a candidate he backed in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll handed the former prime minister the sole defeat of his five-decade-plus political career. He was also responsible for the defeat of Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of H.D. Kumaraswamy, in the Bengaluru (Rural) seat where he fielded his brother D.K. Suresh in the 2013 Lok Sabha bypolls.

In 2002, Shivakumar successfully shielded Congress MLAs from Maharashtra before a crucial trust vote for late Vilasrao Deshmukh.

More recently, Shivakumar and his brother led the operation to shield at least 40 MLAs from Gujarat, who were flown out of their state to foil the BJP’s poaching attempts before the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections.

The tax raids on Shivakumar last year were seen as the BJP’s way to control Shivakumar, often referred as ‘DK Huli’ (Tiger).

In a state almost considered the home of “resort politics"—pioneered by late Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao in the early 1980s —Shivakumar has become its biggest custodian. His resort of choice: Eagleton Golf Resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru.

This time was no different as Shivakumar and his brother Suresh were quick to swing into action soon after BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa was asked to prove its majority.

This time too, it was Shivakumar who was assigned the task—one which involved dealing with the JD(S) and its top leadership, with whom he has shared a turbulent past. Shivakumar’s strategies destroyed the BJP’s chance at power. He not just completed his task, but mastered it.

Close