Black or White, It’s Magic

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BANGALORE -- While the jury is still out on the political crisis in Karnataka, despite the BJP winning two trust votes, the two-week political drama has all the ingredients of a witch’s brew—including headless chicken, pierced eggs, animal blood, lemons, chillies and other things usually associated with black magic. Once the hurly-burly got underway, it seems the state’s politicians spared no effort to win their numbers. Evidence of unholy rituals tumbled into the open with the recovery of these items in three places: including one on the pavement outside the heavily guarded Vidhana Soudha.

Finding the footpath wet and yellow in the morning light, an on-duty policeman stumbled upon a vessel with blood spilling out of it, an egg with four nails pierced into it, a headless chicken, and lemons and chillies strung together. The BJP’s fingers immediately pointed at the Janata Dal Secular (JD-S), which had initiated the crisis, while the JD-S blamed the BJP for getting all this done to save its government.

Even as these incidents kept the media abuzz, police arrested two tribals selling animal parts near the BJP’s office in Malleswaram. A jackal’s head was recovered along with tails and hair belonging to various protected wildlife species. The police say that the duo was trying to sell good-luck charms to politicians. The jackals met this fate because of a popular Kannada saying which proclaims it a good omen to see this animal’s face first thing in the morning.

It has always been whispered that Karnataka’s politicians will do anything to have their way, even black magic. Now, there is evidence to prove it. While those on the straight-and-narrow like to invoke divine help, hopping from temple to temple, there are many who rate the potency of black magic considerably higher.

For many years now, there have been allegations about the use of black magic by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s family. The Gowdas have never denied it, and openly claim that they perform homas (fire rituals), yagnas and the like to ward off the so-called evil eye. In fact, when BS Yeddyurappa was Chief Minister for just one week in 2007, after a power-sharing agreement with the JD-S fell apart, he had accused the Gowda family of indulging in black magic to get rid of him. This startling disclosure was made the day he resigned. “In case something happens to me, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his two sons should be held responsible for it,” Yeddyurappa had said after a routine security check threw up a headless chicken along with lemon and chillies at a helipad from where he was to take off.

The Gowdas have been accused of resorting to black magic on earlier occasions too. In 2000, KN Nage Gowda (a minister during Deve Gowda and JH Patel’s tenures as CM) had publicly made similar allegations. “They are out to finish me off,” he had said. Oddly enough, he died a few months later.

Just before the state’s Assembly polls in 1999, sections of the press had reported strange midnight rituals being conducted by some influential Karnataka politicians. There were also rumours that about 100 animals had been sacrificed. Intrepid reporters had gone in search of the exact spot in a desolate area behind the Raja Rajeshwari Temple on the outskirts of the city. Incidentally, many prominent politicians frequent this temple.

Moreover, a tantric in neighbouring Kerala is often in the news for performing rituals for the Gowda family. This coastal belt is known for black magic, animal sacrifice and other eerie rituals. Police sources say that just before the 2004 Assembly polls, Gowda had visited the tantric’s house for a homa to bring luck. When Gowda’s son HD Kumaraswamy was CM, he flew to Mangalore with only his aidede- camp, got into a private vehicle and went on a secret day-long visit. Mangalore’s police was not informed, and the few who managed to reach the spot were told that it was a private visit. A senior police officer said that Kumaraswamy had definitely breached protocol and visited the same [family] tantric in Kasargod, around 30 km from Mangalore.

But all these black magic practitioners may not save the people of Karnataka from political instability, as the state lurches from one crisis to another. A High Court verdict on the disqualification of 11 BJP MLAs may be key to the government’s continuation, even as the judges postponed the hearing, on a similar petition filed by five independents, to the first week of November. Until then, the drama is set to continue, with the BJP already preparing ground by launching Operation Lotus-2 to poach more JD-S and Congress MLAs.