Bangalore: Former Karnataka Chief Minister Sarekoppa Bangarappa, who left an unique imprint in his more than four-decades long chequered political career marked by frequent party-hopping, died here on Monday after a brief illness.

The 79-year-old backward class leader, who was suffering from kidney-related problems, was undergoing treatment in a private hospital since December 7 and breathed his last around 0045 hours, family sources said.

A stormy petrel of state politics, Bangarappa is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.

In his political journey that began as a socialist, Bangarappa quit Congress half a dozen times, re-joined it as many times, floated his own outfits Karnataka Kranti Ranga and Karnataka Congress party and even joined BJP and Samajwadi party.

In his last political stop, he was in JDS headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, with his demise bringing the colourful political chapter of a maverick leader to an end.

Bangarappa who began his legislative career in 1967 when he was elected to the state assembly, won from Soraba for at least six terms without a break.

He was Chief Minister between 1990-92 and was eased out of office after he rebelled against then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao following which he floated the KCP, causing defeat of the Congress in the 1994 polls.

Bangarappa, who had also served in the Devaraj Urs cabinet, was a Lok Sabha member for three terms in 1996, 1999 and 2003, twice as BJP MP.

Born to a poor couple in nondescript Kabatur village in Malnad district of Shimoga on October 26, 1932, Bangrappa was more known for his rebellious acts among his political associates.

Hailing from the Idiga community, he emerged as a powerful backward class leader but lost the zeal mid-way due to frequent party-hopping. Never hesitant to practise aggressive politics, Bangarappa had also served as the leader of the Opposition in the state assembly during 1985-87 and also as KPCC president.

To take on BJP, Bangrappa chose to quit SP and returned to Congress in 2009. As Congress candidate, he unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls against B Y Raghavendra, son of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

In the 2008 Assembly polls, Bangarappa suffered the ignominy of being defeated by Yeddyurappa from Shikaripura.
Bangarappa is remembered for some welfare schemes launched during his chief ministership.

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said Bangarappa belonged to a "rare" class of politicians who had won the hearts of people.

The state government declared a day's holiday as a mark of respect to the departed leader, whose last rites would be performed at his native village Kabatur with full state honours.

The government has also declared a three-day mourning.

Fighting against the Cauvery River Disputes Tribunal interim award, Bangarappa had enacted a legislation to protect the water rights of farmers in the Cauvery basin, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court. However, the anti-Tamil riots during his chief ministership remained a black mark.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Deve Gowda, also expressed grief over the death. Krishna said Bangarappa was a great visionary and had many plans for Karnataka, but could not do so due to his short tenure as chief minister. "Though he joined many parties, my friendship with Bangarappa remained," he said.

Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily and K H Muniyappa also condoled the death. Khurshid said Bangarappa inspired the cause of all politicians who worked for emancipation of the downtrodden and the marginalised. "During his bright political career, he was in every avatar an inspiration for others," he added.

Moily said Bangarappa, till his last breath, was active in politics. "I knew Bangarappa for the last four decades ... we were good friends," he said.

State BJP President K S Eshwarappa said Bangarappa's death was a great loss to Dalits and Backward Caste community.

Former Chief Minister and State JDS President H D Kumaraswamy said Bangarappa's death was a personal loss as he was a father-figure to him.

Bangarappa was a great Backward Caste leader and fought for societal equanimity, KPCC President G Parameshwara said.

Home Minister R Ashok also condoled the death.

PM condoles Bangarappa's death

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday condoled the death of former Karnataka Chief Minister and Parliamentarian S Bangarappa and said he will be remembered for his commitment and contribution to the welfare of the backward classes.

In a message to the departed leader's wife, Singh said he was deeply saddened to learn of Bangarappa's death.
"He was a widely respected leader who worked selflessly for the welfare of the people of Karnataka, especially the backward classes and the development of the state," he said.

He prayed for peace to the departed soul and fortitude to the family to bear the "irreparable loss".

Bangarappa began his political career with the Congress in 1967 and became a minister in the state for the first time in 1977. He became the Chief Minister in 1990.

He was elected to the Lok Sabha thrice and served as a Parliamentarian with distinction.

TN Guv, DMK chief pay homage

Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah and DMK president M Karunanidhi on Monday condoled the death of former Karnataka Chief Minister S Bangarappa.

In a condolence message sent to Bangarappa's wife Sakuntala, Rosaiah expressed deep shock over the 'sudden demise' of the leader and hailed him for his 'rich acumen.'

"He had dedicated his life for the cause of the people. His death is an irreparable loss to the nation and to Karnataka in particular," he said.

Expressing grief over Bangarappa's death, Karunanidhi said "my friend Bangarappa had strived for the upliftment of backward communities. I expresse my condolences to his family members," he said in a statement here.

Bangarappa died at a private hospital in Bangalore following brief illness.

Chandrababu condoles leader’s death

Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday condoled the death of former Karnataka Chief Minister S Bangarappa.

"As an MLA, an MP and Chief Minister, Bangarappa rendered invaluable services to the people of Karnataka. His death is a great loss to the state," the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister said in a message.

The TDP chief also conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved family.

(JPN/ Agencies)