Ramakrishna Hegde

Ramakrishna Hegde

Ramakrishna Hegde

Date of Birth : August 29, 1926
Date Of Death : January 12, 2004

Mini Biography :

Ramakrishna Mahabaleshwar Hegde (August 29, 1926 – January 12, 2004) was an Indian politician who served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for three terms and as Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Union government.

His father’s name was Mahabaleshwar Hegde and his mother was Saraswati Hegde.He was a lawyer by profession. He participated in the Quit India Movement of 1942 (Indian freedom struggle) and was an active member of the Congress Party. He 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 (1957-58 and 1962-68) and Veerendra Patil (1968-71) in Karnataka, during which he held portfolios such as Cooperation and Development, Panchayati Raj between 1962 and 1965, Finance, Excise and Prohibition, and Information and Publicity between 1965 and 1967.

In the famous split in the Congress in 1969, Hegde 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 other state and national level leaders. When the emergency was lifted he joined the Janata Party becoming its general secretary. The Janata Party came to power as the single largest party in the 1983 State elections, and Hegde emerged as a compromise candidate between the powerful Lingayat and Vokkaliga lobbies. He won his government a two-thirds majority by an arrangement of outside support. He secured the support of 18 members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), six of the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist), and 16 Independents.

Hegde’s two tenures as Chief Minister (from 1983 to 1985, and 1985 to 1988) were memorable for his leadership that combined vision and administrative capability. In his very first year in office, Hegde, along with the able assistance extended by Abdul Nazir Sab, his Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, enacted a law that would devolve administrative powers to a three-tiered panchayati raj system. A wide range of financial and administrative powers were decentralized, setting a model of decentralized governance for the rest of the country. Despite the possibilities that this created, the potential of the panchayat raj system in Karnataka was never exploited to its maximum. During the Janata Party’s rule it was an experiment still in its infancy. When the Congress returned to power in the State it replaced the original legislation with its own version of the Panchayat Raj Act, which took back many of the powers that had been given to panchayat bodies, thereby restricting the possibilities in people-oriented governance that the original act envisaged.

He became the first non-Congress chief minister of Karnataka with the support of BJP. First from January 10, 1983 – December 29, 1984 followed by term from March 8, 1985 – February 13, 1986 and finally from February 16, 1986 – August 10, 1988. He has the rare distinction of presenting thirteen finance budgets in the State assembly.

He was also the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of India, during the time of V. P. Singh. He was expelled from Janata Dal by its president Lalu Prasad Yadav, as per the instructions of then Prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda. Ramakrishna Hegde formed ‘Rashtreeya Nava nirmana vedike’ a social organisation and then ‘Lokashakti’. He became the commerce minister in the BJP lead NDA government.

He was immensely popular as the chief minister and was a charismatic personality. He brought many schemes for the welfare of people and changes in administration, which had far reaching effects. He acted in many dramas and movies such as ‘Marana Mrudanga’. He was also the political mentor of a lot many politicians. At the age of 77 due to poor health Ramakrishna Hegde died in Bangalore on January 12, 2004.

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