D. Devaraj Urs

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D. Devaraj Urs
Devaraj Urs.PNG
8th Chief Minister of Karnataka
In office
20 March 1972 – 31 December 1977
Preceded by President's Rule
Succeeded by President's Rule
In office
28 February 1978 – 7 January 1980
Preceded by President's Rule
Succeeded by R. Gundu Rao
Personal details
Born 20 August 1915
Mysore, Mysore State (now in Karnataka)
Died 18 May 1982
Political party Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress (Urs)

D. Devaraj Urs (20 August 1915 – 18 May 1982) was an Indian politician who served two terms as the 8th Chief Minister of Karnataka (1972–77, 1978–80), a state in southern India. He entered politics in 1952 and was an MLA for 10 years. When the Indian National Congress split in 1969 as Samstha and Indira Congress, he stood with Indira Gandhi. He became the Chief Minister (fifth Assembly) for the first time from 20.3.1972 to 31.12.1977, later for the second time from 17.3.1978 to 8.6.1980 (sixth Assembly).[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

D. Devaraj Urs was born at Kallahalli in Hunsur taluka, Mysore district, in what was then the Kingdom of Mysore. His father, also named Devaraj Urs, was a land-owner and his mother, Devira Ammanni, was a pious and traditional lady. He had one brother, Kemparaje Urs. The family belonged to the aristocratic Arasu community, the nobility of Mysore Kingdom, and were very distant kin to the Wodeyar royal family, because several Maharajas of Mysore had taken brides from the Arasu families of Kallahalli.[citation needed]

Devaraj Urs was married to 11-year-old Chikkammanni (or Chikka Ammani), a girl from his own community and from a suitable family, in a match arranged by their parents when he was almost 15. The marriage proved to be harmonious and conventional. They had three daughters — Chandra Prabha, Nagrathna and Bharathi.

Devaraj Urs had his primary and high school education at the Urs Boarding School in Mysore, which had been set up by the Maharaja of Mysore expressly to provide suitable education to the sons of the Arasu community, to equip them for higher responsibilities in their adulthood. After passing school, Devaraj Urs studied at the Maharajas College in Mysore and took a BA Degree.

Politics[edit]

After completing his education, Devaraj Urs returned to Kallahalli and engaged himself in agriculture, overseeing the extensive lands owned by his family. However, his innate leadership quality did not permit Devraj Urs to stay in the village and brought him to politics.

Devaraj Urs entered politics in 1952 by contesting the very first elections held in the country after it attained independence. At this time, the Maharaja was still the head of state in Mysore (until 1956), the state retained the same boundaries as before independence, and the Arasu community was entrenched in the countryside due to centuries of ties with village communities. Devaraj Urs easily won a seat to the state legislature and served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for 10 years (two successive terms). An Indian National Congress party leader from Mysore, Urs was a member of the intra-party "Syndicate" of powerful regional leaders. However, he was never as antagonistic towards Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as other leaders of the Syndicate, such as K. Kamaraj. When push came to shove, he chose to abandon the Syndicate and go with Indira Gandhi.

Urs had practically retired from politics when the first Congress split took place in 1969, and the Syndicate formed the Congress (O) (for "Organization") while Indira Gandhi formed the Congress (R). The Congress (O), under S. Nijalingappa, Veerendra Patil, Ramakrishna Hegde and Deve Gowda dominated Karnataka electorally and had a majority in the state assembly, but Urs declined an invitation to join it. Instead, he agreed to lead the Congress (R) in the state and won the state for Indira Gandhi in the elections of 1971.[citation needed]

Chief Minister of Mysore[edit]

Dates in power[edit]

During the Fifth Assembly of Karnataka State, D. Devaraj Urs was the Chief Minister from 20-03-1972 to 31-12-1977. President's Rule was imposed from 31-12-1977 to 28-02-1978, following Mrs. Gandhi's fall. The Sixth Assembly lasted its five-year term, from 17 March 1978 to 8 June 1983. Devraj Urs was Chief Minister from 28-02-1978 to 07-01-1980, when he was ousted and succeeded by R. Gundu Rao.[citation needed]

Tenure[edit]

Devaraj Urs' tenure is particularly remembered for his reforms that targeted the depressed classes of Karnataka, namely the scheduled castes and the other backward castes.[citation needed]

In response to the prime minister's declaration that poverty was her first priority ("Garibi Hatao!") and her Twenty-Point Programme, Urs formed a state cabinet dominated by technocrats and academics. His first priority was land reform, and his slogan was "Land to the tiller"; under him a sustained effort was made to equalize the land distribution through much of the state. Karnataka, thus, other than the communist bastions of Kerala and West Bengal, has had one of the most successful land redistributions in the country. A side-effect of this was to break the hold of the previously dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga castes over local politics. He was helped in his endeavours by his colleagues Huchamasti Gowda, B Subbayya Shetty and others from his cabinet.

Other schemes included the building of shelters for migrant workers; the forgiveness of rural debt; and, in a populist masterstroke, a plan to have an electric bulb in every house. When R. K. Baliga, Founder of the Electronics City proposed the concept of developing the electronic city in the early 1970s it was met with skepticism but Devaraj Urs supported him and approved the project. This initial seed investment by the Karnataka State Government in 1976 laid the foundation for the Electronics City.

In 1980, however, he exited the Congress (I). He had quarrelled with Indira Gandhi, and was appearing before the Supreme Court in Karnataka vs. Union of India, and thus felt the time was right to cut his losses and leave the Congress. This was a miscalculation because although many legislators in Karnataka, Kerala and Goa went with him - such as A.K. Antony, Sharad Pawar, Priyaranjan Das Munshi and K.P. Unnikrishnan, Mrs. Gandhi swept back to power at the national level and the fledgling Congress (Urs) was routed. Urs subsequently joined the Janata Party, and his protégé Ramakrishna Hegde recaptured power in Karnataka from the Congress in 1984. The Congress (Urs) itself became Congress (S) in 1983.

Achievements[edit]

D. Devaraj Urs espoused the cause poor and ushered in a "silent social revolution" in the state of Karnataka. He was the voice of the poor and stood for the cause of the downtrodden in society. Urs was elected continuously from Hunsur as an MLA for 28 years, from 1952 to 1980 and is one of the longest serving Chief Ministers of Karnataka.

Among the contributions of the late Chief Minister was the stress laid on the education of the people belonging to the backward classes and establishment of the backwards and minorities hostels for the students hailing from those sections of society. Absorbing 16,000 unemployed graduates in the stipendiary scheme whose services were confirmed later, abolition of carrying night soil by Dalits and bonded labour, renaming Mysore as Karnataka in 1973 were some landmark decisions taken by him.

D. Devaraj Urs was one of the greatest social reformers the State had seen. The land reforms spearheaded by him, in which the tiller of the land became the owner, was exemplary. It u reduced the chasm between the rich and the poor, doing away with social inequality.

Mysore district had the highest incidents of bonded labour in India during that time and the decision of the Urs Government to abolish it was remarkable. Urs must be remembered for his achievements in weaning away poor people from the clutches of the rich moneylenders. The deeds of the late Chief Minister in the irrigation sector too had helped the farmer community tremendously. The Kali project, one of them, was executed amidst opposition from several quarters.[citation needed]

Gallery[edit]

8th Chief Minister of Karnataka, D. Devaraj Urs
 
 

Further reading[edit]