Veerappa Moily is a familiar figure in Karnataka politics, but at the Centre, he was relatively unknown – till 10 years ago.
Born in Dakshina Kannada district of south Karnataka, Moily is a qualified lawyer, and fought his first assembly elections from Karkala in 1974. He belongs to a numerically-weak backward community, and was handpicked by then Karnataka chief minister Devraj Urs as small-scale industries minister. He later remained minister in the Gundu Rao, Veerendra Patil and S Bangarappa ministries.
The first major hitch in his career came in 1984, when as leader of the Opposition, he was accused by an independent MLA of trying to bribe Janata Party MLAs to defect to the Congress. The infamous Moily tapes surfaced soon. For eight years that followed, he fought the stain of corruption alone, with the Congress distancing itself from him. In 1992, after the Congress high command removed chief minister S Bangarappa, central observers Nawal Kishore Sharma and Jagannath Mishra suggested Moily as a replacement.
He was also the chairman of a tax reforms commission in the S M Krishna government in Karnataka.
Moily’s literary bent — he has written several novels and two books of poetry — and his background in law have stood him in good stead. Thus, in 2004, despite having lost the Lok Sabha polls from Mangalore, Moily was utilised by the UPA government and the Congress for his intellectual inputs.
He was asked to head the administrative reforms commission and he produced weighty tomes. He was then appointed law minister, and then, without any reason given to him, shifted to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, a change, he made it generally known, he was not happy about.
Initially, he was to have been given full charge of the power ministry, with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs reverting to Salman Khurshid who held it earlier. However, the plan changed at the last minute and he now holds charge of both.