Ramakrishna Hegde

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Ramakrishna Hegde
10th Chief Minister of Karnataka
In office
10 January 1983 – 10 August 1988
Preceded by R. Gundu Rao
Succeeded by S. R. Bommai
Personal details
Born (1926-08-29)August 29, 1926
Siddapur, Uttara Kannada
Died 12 January 2004(2004-01-12) (aged 77)
Bengaluru, Karnataka,India
Political party Janata Dal, Lok Shakti
Spouse(s) Shakuntala Hegde
Religion Hindu

Ramakrishna Mahabaleshwar Hegde (Kannada: ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣ ಹೆಗಡೆ) (August 29, 1926 – January 12, 2004) was an Indian politician who served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for three terms, he was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 1957, 1962, 1967, 1983, 1985 and 1989. He was member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms, (1978-1983) and (1996-2002); and also remained Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Union government (1998-1999).[1]

Early life[edit]

Hegde was born on 29 August 1926 at Siddapura in Uttara Kannada district. His parents were Mahabaleshwar Hegde and Saraswati Hegde, who hailed from a Havyaka Brahmin family. He completed a part of his studies at the Kashi Vidyapeeth in Varanasi and later obtained a degree in law from Allahabad university.[2] A lawyer by profession, he participated in the Quit India Movement of 1942 and was an active member of the Congress Party.[3]

Political career[edit]

Hegde became the president of the Uttara Kannada District Congress Committee from 1954 to 1957 and rose to become the general secretary of the Mysore Pradesh Congress Committee in 1958, a post he held until 1962. Much of his early administrative experience was built up during the governments of S. Nijalingappa (1956–58 and 1962–68) and Veerendra Patil (1968–71) in Karnataka. He was first elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 1957 and was appointed a deputy minister. He was later promoted as a cabinet minister and held diverse portfolios such as Youth welfare and Sports, Cooperation, Industries, Planning, Panchayat Raj, Development, Information and Publicity, Excise and Finance between 1962-71.[3]

During the famous split in the Congress in 1969, Hegde followed in the footsteps of his mentor Nijalingappa and joined the Congress (O). He was Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council for a few years until 1974. The 1975 Emergency crackdown on opposition leaders saw his arrest along with several other state and national level leaders. When the emergency was lifted, he joined the Janata Party and became the first general secretary of its state unit. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha during 1978-83.

Chief minister[edit]

When the Janata Party came to power by emerging as the single largest party in the 1983 State elections, he emerged as a consensus candidate between the powerful Lingayat and Vokkaliga lobbies.[4] Thus, He became the first non-Congress chief minister of Karnataka.[5] A master strategist, he cobbled up a two-thirds majority for his government by an arrangement of outside support from other parties. His government secured the outside support of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), left parties and 16 Independents.[6]

Following the poor performance of the Janata Party in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections (it won only 4 out of the 28 seats from Karnataka), Hegde resigned on the grounds that his party had lost its popular mandate and sought a fresh mandate for his government. In the 1985 elections, the Janata Party came to power on its own with a comfortable majority.

As Chief Minister between 1983 and 1985 and again between 1985 and 1988, he became an active votary of State rights within a federal set-up, but one who made no concession to regional or linguistic chauvinism. Secondly, he took innovative initiatives in expanding the federal principle within the State, primarily in the area of devolving power to local bodies and in trying to enforce accountability. During his Chief Ministership, Karnataka pioneered legislation on Panchayat raj that devolved a substantial degree of financial and administrative powers to a three-tiered structure of local government.He supported the tireless work of his Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Abdul Nazir Sab, in promoting devolution of power to the gram panchayats in the state, and the Karnataka implementation became a role model for the rest of India. [7] In 1984 he introduced legislation to deal with official and administrative corruption through the institution of the Lokayukta.[8] Also, he started the 'Kannada watchdog panel' to oversee the implementation of Kannada in administration.[9] He has the rare distinction of presenting thirteen finance budgets in the State assembly.[3]

As Chief minister, Hegde enjoyed immense personal popularity and was acknowledged as an efficient administrator.[10] However, as days passed by, his rule was mirred with several scams involving alleged corruption on the part of his own family. His son was accused of taking money for a medical seat. There were allegations made by the Congress (I) against him in a case involving the transfer of shares by the NGEF company.[11]

He submitted resignation from chief ministership on February 13, 1986 when the Karnataka High Court censured his government for the way it handled arrack bottling contracts[12] but withdrew his resignation after three days on February 16, 1986.

He resigned and quit office in 1988 after allegations of phone tapping of prominent politicians and businessmen in the State.[13][14] Hegde then filed a case against Subramanian Swamy in 1989 and 1990 after Swamy accused him in tapping.[15][16][17]

He was also the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, during the tenure of V. P. Singh. He was expelled from Janata Dal by its president Lalu Prasad Yadav, as per the instructions of the then Prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda in 1996.[18] Following his expulsion, Hegde formed the Rashtreeya Nava nirmana vedike a social organisation and then his own political party 'Lok Shakti'.[19] He allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the alliance won a majority of the Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka in the 1998 General Elections.[20] He became the Commerce minister in the BJP led NDA government in 1998.[21] After the Janata Dal split of 1999, the faction led by his protégé and the then Chief Minister J.H.Patel and the Lok Shakti merged to form the Janata Dal (United) and allied with the BJP. However, the alliance suffered a set back in the 1999 General Elections owing to the anti incumbency against the Patel Government and the Congress party emerged victorious in Karnataka.

Later life[edit]

Despite the weakening of his political stock, he continued to play the role of elder statesman in the fractious Janata Parivar.[5] He gradually moved away from active politics owing to his poor health. He died in Bangalore on January 12, 2004 after prolonged illness at the age of 77.[22] His death caused an outpouring of grief in Karnataka.[23][24][25]

A versatile personality, he also acted in many dramas and movies such as 'Marana Mrudanga', Praja Shakti.[26] He was the political mentor of a wide number of politicians such as Abdul Samad Siddiqui, M.P. Prakash, P.G.R.Sindhia, R.V.Deshpande, Jeevaraj_Alva and groomed many younger politicians.On the last part of his life he used to be mentally depressed and trusted only few friends like Jeevaraj_Alva, Abdul Samad Siddiqui and Shri Manas Ranjan one Oriya political activist and Lawyer in Delhi. His wife Smt. Shakuntala Hegde unsuccessfully contested for Rajya sabha as a candidate of BJP in 2004.[27]

Political offices
Preceded by
R. Gundu Rao
Chief Minister of Karnataka
10 January 1983 – 10 August 1988
Succeeded by
S. R. Bommai


  1. ^ "Rajya Sabha Members Biographical Sketches 1952 - 2003: H". pp. 3–4. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Hegde, a multifaceted personality". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ramakrishna Hegde dead". rediff.com. 
  4. ^ edited by George Mathew Shift in Indian Politics: 1983 Elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Edited by George Mathew. 
  5. ^ a b "Pillar of anti-Congress movement". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  6. ^ "State unit History". Bharatiya Janata Party- Karnataka. 
  7. ^ "The man behind panchayat raj". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  8. ^ "Ramakrishna Hegde, 1926-2004". The Hindu. Jan 14, 2004. 
  9. ^ "Unflinching loyalty to Kannada". The Hindu. Jan 14, 2004. 
  10. ^ "Hegde termed a model administrator". The Hindu. Jan 14, 2004. 
  11. ^ "A Bomb waiting to explode". Outlook. 
  12. ^ "City in a Bottle". The Caravan. 
  13. ^ "Phone tapping: What 1997 Supreme Court verdict says". rediff.com. 
  14. ^ http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/getFiles.asp?Style=OliveXLib:LowLevelEntityToPrint_TOINEW&Type=text/html&Locale=english-skin-custom&Path=TOIBG/2010/04/26&ID=Ar01501
  15. ^ http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1559770/
  16. ^ http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=39307
  17. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Watch-out-Your-phone-may-be-tapped/articleshow/1190723.cms?referral=PM
  18. ^ "Taming A Rival". Outlook. 
  19. ^ "Hegde launches national party Lok Shakti". Business Standard. February 17, 1997. 
  20. ^ "Messages from the states: Karnataka". frontline. 
  21. ^ "The swadeshi route to liberalisation". frontline. 
  22. ^ "Ramakrishna Hegde passes away". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  23. ^ "Leaders recall Hegde's contribution". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  24. ^ "Admirers throng Hegde's residence". The Hindu. Jan 13, 2004. 
  25. ^ "A Tribute to Hegde". 
  26. ^ "Hero Hedge!". Rediff.com. 
  27. ^ "Shakuntala fails to make it to RS". Deccan Herald. June 29, 2004.