First Bangalore got its name changed and this was followed by a change in the government itself. So, did Dharam Singh lose power because he changed the name of the capital city of Karnataka? Difficult to say now because of lack of a precedent, but the present Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has opted to change his name to bring luck.He has neatly tucked in a couple of `a’s into his name. Nobody is sure whether it would be Kumaaraswaamy, Kumaara Swaamy or Kumaar-a-Swaamy.
For newspaper men, it becomes a tough task trying to squeeze any of the three options into a heading. Kumaraswaamy is not alone in such beliefs or superstitions which are supposed to bring truckloads of luck for politicians and mirth for those who voted them to power. Deputy Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has not changed his name, but has refused to occupy `Cauvery’, the official residence. A name change or a house would look like peanuts in front of Chamarajnagaror Virupaksha temple in Hampi. No chief minister in recent times had the courage to visit Chamarajnagar fearing bad luck. D Devaraj URS lost power just weeks after visiting the town.
S R Bommai and the late Veerendra Patil, Gundu Rao and Ramakrishna Hegde met with a similar fate after visiting the town. J H Patel was not allowed by his supporters to visit the town. He finally had to fly over Chamarajnagar to inaugurate the district. Virupaksha temple is another strict `no-no’ place for CMs. Lord Shiva seems to dislike CMs. In 1983, the late Rajiv Gandhi launched the Karnataka campaign after a visit to the temple. The Congress lost and the state saw the first non-Congress government. Deve Gowda, who was CM, skipped visiting Virupaksha and went on to become the PM. J H Patel visited the temple as Deputy CM and got a promotion as CM. But some experiences were bitter. Ramakrishna Hegde, Veerappa Moily and Bangarappa were rendered powerless by Lord Shiva.
Later CMs never dared to see Shiva. They would go to Hampi to inaugurate an Utsav there, but the temple was a dreaded place. More recently, M P Prakash visited the temple and lost his Deputy CM post when the Dharam Singh regime fell. Such superstitions are plenty. Minister doing puja to chairs, offices, desks or breaking coconuts are now very routine. Deve Gowda and his son are staunch believers in homas and pujas. When Gowda became the prime minister, astrologers told him that he would have to move into his official residence before June 6, but the late Narasimha Rao’s astrologers had asked the outgoing PM not to vacate before June 10. So for four days a PM and former PM had to share the same roof!
The late Chenna Reddy always carried a stick loaded with precious stones when he was CM of Andhra Pradesh. NTR loved the number 6 and used to wear an ear-ring or a turban. He used to enter his office at 2 am only after an elaborate puja where the dividing line between gods and NTR was often very thin or blurred.
If bringing prosperity involves name change or keeping away from towns or temples, why not have a Ministry for Superstitions & Luck?