Bihar seems to have lost its notoriety and has been upstaged by Karnataka in matters of politicking.Enticing Opposition members to resign in return for cash and ministerial posts; making Independents powerful ministers; engineering rebellion in public glare; using the underworld elements to threaten leaders; offering cash in crores of rupees; beating up Assembly staff; performing a Full Monty and flexing muscles in the Assembly Hall using filthy language?the political theatre in Karnataka has never been so colorful and vivid.Political observers attribute this changing behaviour among politicians to the entry of a new set of legislators backed with ever-lasting money and muscle power. If the 90s belonged to the liquor lobby; in the first decade of the new millennium, it was the real estate lobby that ruled politics in Karnataka. Now it is the combination of mining and real estate lobbies that has taken over the political battlefield in the state.”It is common for people from such backgrounds (mining and real estate) to fight in the open, in foul language, use underworld elements for gains and boast of money power. The same set of people has entered the Assembly. They cannot understand the difference between the Assembly and the business turf. People should not be surprised with the behavior of the legislators as they have elected them in spite of knowing their background,” points out Dr N. Veerappa, a historian.A majority of the legislators elected from in and around Bangalore are real estate developers whose interests clash with the government’s policies. Similarly, first- time legislators from the iron- ore rich Bellary- Koppal- Tumkur- Chitradurga districts are mine owners with enormous wealth.advertisementHigh- end SUVs and sports cars are a common sight near the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the government, an indication that the legislators do not mind flaunting their assets.As a consequence, “cash transaction” has gained prominence in politics, unheard of in Karnataka even five years ago. During the recent political crisis, Congress legislators came out in the open to allege that BJP was offering them ” up to Rs 10 crore” to switch sides.A BJP MLA was even caught on camera offering ” at least Rs 15 crore” to a Janata Dal ( Secular) MLA. The BJP MLA even promised an ” initial installment of Rs 5 crore within two hours”. ” Such discussions could be shocking for a commoner. But that’s the way business transactions are conducted, especially money matters. The same logic is being applied in politics by these businessmen- turned- legislators with little shame or fear of the law,” notes Dr Veerappa.When the Bellary Reddy brothers launched the ‘ Operation Lotus’ two years ago in order to consolidate the BJP’s strength in the Assembly, they were not aware that a new trend was being started by them in politics.Subsequently, it became a tool for the BJP to injure the Opposition by engineering mass resignations.Last month too, the BJP reduced the Opposition’s strength by wooing three MLAs.Taking a cue from BJP, the JD( S) tried to destabilise the government allegedly backed by the mining lobby, which reportedly pumped in ` 200 crore for the exercise. JD( S) leaders openly hobnobbed with the BJP rebels, again, a behavior that was not seen a few years ago.According to Dr Satish T, a behavioral expert, the new set of businessmen- legislators is influencing the old- time politicians in a big way. ” The old- time politicians were scared of spoiling their reputation; but not anymore. They are observing the behavior of these neo- breed politicians, who care a damn for their image. That’s why more and more senior politicians are behaving like their young counterparts,” he explains.But extremely disheartening is the fact that the Bangalorebased civil society organisations, which had launched several national campaigns in the past to create awareness about democracy and voters’ rights, have become silent spectators to the drama being played in the open by these politicians.