The independent MLA, who is being courted by BJP and Congress was once based out of Bengaluru and then moved to Haveri.

From Cong to BJP to Cong in 24 hrs Which way will Pendulum R Shankar swing
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 - 14:40

Is R Shankar with the BJP or is he with the Congress? If there is a politician who wins an award for  changing his mind multiple times in a matter of hours, it has to go to R Shankar, the MLA-elect from Ranebennur.

Soon after the Karnataka election results were announced, Congress strategist and former Energy Minister DK Shivakumar rushed to gather the two independents – R Shankar and H Nagesh.

On May 15 evening, both the independents were seen at DK Shivakumar’s residence, pledging their allegiance to the Congress-JD(S) combine.

R Shankar, who was expected to arrive at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office for a meeting on Wednesday, did not turn up. The Congress leaders were frantic.

Shankar was spotted with former BJP State President and MLA-elect from Shivamogga, KS Eshwarappa.

Shankar and Eshwarappa were seen entering the home of CM BS Yeddyurappa in Bengaluru’s Dollars Colony on Wednesday morning.

He later went for the legislative party meeting held by the BJP along with Eshwarappa.

Meanwhile, in the KPCC office, a livid DK Shivakumar was seen storming into his chamber along with a few of his associates to chalk out a plan to bring Shankar back into the Congress fold.

The deliberations went on for a few minutes and DK Shivakumar immediately left the office, only to return a few hours later.

Soon after Shivakumar’s arrival, JN Ganesh, Chikkodi MLA-elect and Shankar strolled into the Congress office on Wednesday evening. Soon, he left with Congress MLAs to the Eagleton Resort in Bidadi.

Meanwhile, it was the BJP’s turn to look flabbergasted. When quizzed by reporters about Shankar’s party-hopping, KS Eshwarappa told reporters that he would come back to the BJP.

“He has gone. He will come back again. I don’t know why he went,” Eshwarappa told reporters.

Cut to Thursday and Shankar arrived with Congress and JD(S) MLA-elects to protest in front of the Gandhi statue at Vidhana Soudha.

“Look! Look here, I am here. I have not gone to the BJP. I am very much with the Congress,” Shankar said, as he sat beside independent MLA from Mulbagal, G Nagesh.

Rushing to his rescue, former Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George said, “He was with the Congress before. He has returned to his party.”

Who is R Shankar?

R Shankar, the man who has contested elections multiple times, emerged as the giant slayer in Ranebennur after defeating former Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly - KB Koliwad of the Congress.

R Shankar had contested from Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha (KPJP). Does KPJP sound familiar? This the party that Sandalwood actor Upendra joined in October 2017, only to quit in March 2018, just before the election.

R Shankar, the KPJP candidate from this segment in BJP-dominated Haveri region, won by a margin of 213 votes.

The man originally a resident of Bengaluru’s Kalyan Nagar was a corporator in 2001 from Lingarajapuram and was elected the Deputy Mayor of Bengaluru City that very year. Back then, he was with the Congress.

In 2008, Shankar had contested from Sarvagnanagar constituency from a BJP ticket against KJ George and had secured a meagre 22,880 votes.

A staunch believer of lord Shiva and a regular visitor of the Mailaralingeshwara Temple in Ranebennur, R Shankar decided to shift base to Ranebennur. He went on to construct a house and also set up an office there.

It was in 2008 that he began working towards his goal of becoming a leader with a strong voter base. “He began helping people in any way he could. Rather than identifying himself as a politician, he was known as a social worker. He would hear people’s problems, no matter how small and sort it out,” says Mohan Gowda, Secretary of KPJP.

Shankar is known for his charitable work in Ranebennur. Just like Congress’ NA Haris in Shantinagar, Shankar began giving out free school kits to children from low income backgrounds, thus winning over loyalty. Five years later, he had become a well-known face in the region.

R Shankar had lost to KB Koliwad in the 2013 elections in Ranebennur by a margin of 6,788 votes. Shankar had contested as an independent in 2013.

Known in political circles as a serial turncoat, R Shankar is being courted by both the BJP and the Congress now as every vote will count in the upcoming floor test.

BJP insiders claim Shankar is a double agent. “He is in the Congress because he and another MLA in the Congress have been assigned the task of turning other leaders in favour of the BJP. How efficiently he can accomplish this remains to be seen,” a BJP leader said.


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