N. Dharam Singh

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N. Dharam Singh.
17th Chief Minister of Karnataka
In office
28 May 2004 – 3 February 2006
Preceded by S. M. Krishna
Succeeded by H. D. Kumaraswamy
Constituency Jevargi
Personal details
Born (1936-12-25) 25 December 1936 (age 78)
Nelogi, Jevargi, Gulbarga
Political party Indian National Congress
Spouse(s) Prabhavati Dharam Singh
Religion Hindu, Rajput
As of 28 May, 2008

Dharam Singh Narayan Singh (born 25 December 1936) is an Indian politician who was the 17th Chief Minister of Karnataka, a state in southern India, from 2004 to 2006. He was a Member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for seven consecutive terms and a Member of Parliament representing Bidar in the 14th Lok Sabha.

Early life and family[edit]

Dharam Singh was born in Nelogi village of Jevargi taluk in Gulbarga District.[1] He obtained his MA and LLB degrees from Osmania University, Hyderabad.

Political career[edit]

Dharam Singh began his long innings in politics as an Independent Corporator in the Gulbarga District City Municipal Council by contesting against his own brother. He started his political career as a socialist. He was brought up under the pulsating influence of Bhim Sena founder B.Shyam Sunder. In fact he was his election agent who contested for Parliamentary seat from Gulbarga and Bidar and Mr. Singh toured along with him to these districts. He was the Secretary of Hyderabad Karnataka Youth League.

In the late 1960s, he joined the Indian National Congress and has remained a staunch loyalist since then, without deserting the party even when it passed through its worst times of D. Devraj Urs, where he formed his own outfit getting separated from the INC. Whereas his friend, guide and colleague Mallikarjun Kharge had done so. This made him a strong contender for the post of Chief Minister in 2004 and first choice for Sonia Gandhi among this set of pair of leaders from North Karnataka of Gulbarga District.

Interestingly, Gulbarga has a rare distinction of so-called Guru - Shishya parampara (Teacher disciple) tradition, which played a major role in deciding politics of this region from Bahamani dynasty era, where Hasan Gangu's disciple was Bahaman Shah. Later, this same culture was followed in an era of Social revolution during the period of the 12th century A. D. Surprisingly, people noticed this same tradition in this above stated political dual pair of Mallikarjun Kharge and Dharam Singh. He even gave up the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat of which he was the Member of Parliament to accommodate C.M. Stephen, who was a Union Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet, in 1980 on Indira Gandhi's directions.[2]

He has served as a minister under various chief ministers such as Devaraj Urs, R. Gundu Rao, S. Bangarappa, M. Veerappa Moily and S. M. Krishna, and has handled diverse portfolios such as Home, Excise, Social Welfare, Urban Development and Revenue. He was KPCC president in the 1990s when his party was out of power. At that time, the Congress' national leadership was headed by Sitaram Kesri, for whom Singh was said to be a favorite. He lost out to his senior colleague S.M. Krishna in the race to the Chief Minister's post in 1999. Then, he joined the Krishna ministry and handled the Public Works Department portfolio.

When the 2004 state elections resulted in a hung assembly with no party getting enough seats to form a government, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)) parties decided to come together and form a coalition government. Known for his adaptability and friendly nature and his close political ties with H. D. Deve Gowda, Dharam Singh was the unanimous choice of both parties to head the government.[3] He was sworn in as Chief Minister on 28 May 2004.[4] He was the second leader from Gulbarga to become Chief Minister after Veerendra Patil. For almost 20 months, he led the fragile coalition through many ups and downs.

He was criticized for not being assertive in sense coming from minority community and further allowing the JD(S) supremo to join hands, which was their junior partner in coalition to call the shots in the government.[5] He left office on 3 February 2006 after the collapse of the Coalition government formed by the Congress (I) due to a defection in the JD(S) engineered by H.D. Kumaraswamy, who succeeded him as Chief Minister, leading a new coalition with the BJP.[6]

During the tenure of H.D. Kumaraswamy, Dharam Singh was the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.[7] However, in the 2008 state elections he was defeated by a political lightweight, Doddappagouda Patil Naribol of the BJP, by a slim margin of 52 postal votes.[8] In the Lok Sabha elections held in May 2009, he contested from Bidar Lok Sabha constituency and emerged victorious against his former colleague Bhagwant Khuba of the BJP by a huge margin of 92,222 votes.[9]

Positions held[edit]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

The Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Nitte Santosh Hegde in 2008 has found Dharam Singh and 11 other officials guilty of causing a loss to the State exchequer owing to irregularities in the mining sector. The Lokayukta report indicted him for causing a loss of Rs. 23.22 crore. According to the report, Dharam Singh is at fault for allowing illegal mining in "patta" lands.[10] The Lokayukta had also asked for the amount caused as loss to be recovered from Dharam Singh.[11]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
S.M. Krishna
Chief Minister of Karnataka
28 May 2004 - 2 February 2006
Succeeded by
H. D. Kumaraswamy