Nearly three years have passed by since Bangaloreans elected corporators to represent them in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) thinking the representatives would address all their woes, but their problems seem to have multiplied since then. Forget about addressing civic problems, corporators these days are in news for all the wrong reasons: while some have been charged with taking bribes, one has been arrested for allegedly ordering the murder of an RTI activist.
Expressing his dissatisfaction about the prevailing state of affairs, former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde said, “Earlier, people used to join politics to serve people. Now it has become a business. Once they are elected, politicians try to misuse power. Those who have money enter politics to make more money and politicians have become corrupt at all levels. We need to change voters’ mindset to stop people from voting for representatives of their caste. We also need a law to recall the elected representatives who are not doing their job or have become corrupt as it would deter the elected representatives from going astray.”
Corporators like T R Shamanna, Krishna Iyer, K Poosalingam and D Cholan worked day and night to solve the problems of the people. They brought a change to the city. They have showed what public life is all about.
Jain University Pro-Vice Chancellor and Political Analyst Prof Sandeep Sashtri says, “Politicians are the reflections of times that they live in. During T R Shammanna and Krishna Iyer’s days, most of the people in society were principled. The present day politicians reflect the society. Many in the society have become corrupt and politicians reflect them.
A Man who Treated His Constituents Like Family
Corporator from Bharathinagar ward in 1963, 1968, 1981 and 1996
An MLA on DMK ticket in 1972
He was the only candidate to be elected on DMK ticket during 1972 assembly elections.
D Poosalingam is fondly remembered as a corporator who treated everyone in his ward like his family members. Some recall that Pooosalingam used to visit every road in Bharathinagar ward to find out if residents were getting enough water. Despite being a four-time corporator, Poosalingam, did not own a vehicle and people in his ward used to drop him to the Corporation office. According to Devaraj, a senior citizen who had close contact with Poosalingam, the corporator used to personally go to the Food and Civil Supplies Department to get ration cards for poor people in his ward.
Devaraj recalls, “He used to fill forms and apply for ration cards (for poor people). Poosalingam used to accompany many poor parents to schools to get their children admitted and at times, Poosalingam paid the school fees for such students.”
Poosalingam’s son, Ravi Poosalingam, remembers his father as someone who never abused his position or authority.
Ravi Poosalingam says, “My brother, who was studying at RBANMS College had attendance shortage and the principal did not allow him to write the exams. Though the college was in Bharathinagar ward, which was represented by my father, he did not use his position to help my brother take the examinations. I am sure that the principal would have listened to my father. When my brother requested my father to help him, he told him to bear the consequences of his mistakes.”
V S Krishna Iyer
‘The City was Clean During His Days’
Elected: Corporator from Kempegowdanagar ward in 1960
Mayor of B’lore in 1962-63.
MLC from Graduates Constituency for three consecutive times from early 1970’s
Urban Development Minister of state for a brief period in 1985.
Residents of Basavangudi reminisce V S Krishna Iyer’s days as a corporator and think India needs many more Krishna Iyers to overcome its problems. H Chandrashekar, a retired BEML planning manager from Basavangudi, says the present day representatives try to please everyone with sugar-coated words to enhance their popularity, but are not bothered about monitoring the day-to-day activities of the government agencies. “When we were kids, we used to study in Basavangudi Boys Middle School and the school had sufficient teachers to teach all the students. Many of my schoolmates have reached top positions. Now, there are hardly 20 students in all the three classes of the school, and all of them are taught in the same room by one teacher. The teachers and students there do not know the importance of education. This example highlights the difference between politicians like Krishna Iyer and present day politicians,” says Chandrashekar. According to R Venkatesh, a retired auditor from Basavangudi, the city, unlike today, used to be very clean though there were limited funds in the Corporation. Krishna Iyer used to monitor all the works in his ward and ensure works were completed in accordance with the terms of the contract. A principled politician, Krishna Iyer, did not focus on making money and always travelled in an auto. According to Shivanna, Krishna Iyer spent all his earnings on serving people and his only assets were a house in Chamrajpet and a printing press, which he owned even before he entered politics.
Krishna Iyer quit politics after his close friend and mentor Ramakrishna Hegde died in 2004. Krishna Iyer died on July 25, 2011, at the age of 89 years.
‘Hard to Find Politicians Like Him’
Elected: Twice corporator from Shivajinagar ward between 1963 and 1973
Despite being a two-time corporator, K Cholan, had only a `10 note in his pocket when he died in Bowring Hospital in 2001. According to Cholan’s son, Karunanidhi, Cholan did not own a site or a house and his family still continues to live in BBMP quarters on a narrow lane near Shivaji Road. With a sense of pride, Karunanidhi says, “My mother once brought an almirah from her savings and my father scolded her saying that people would think he had misappropriated public money.” Cholan’s daughter, Kavitha, who still remembers that his father used to visit every house in his ward says, “The Mayor at that time had recognised Shivajinagar ward as the cleanest ward and had given an award to my father”.
Cholan’s wife Rukmini recalls she had to prepare at least 100 cups of tea for people who used to come to meet Cholan. He discouraged his family from entering politics and therefore, none of his family members are interested in politics.
Though Cholan died more than ten years ago, he is remembered by the people in his ward for his simplicity, dedication, determination, principles and hard work. Many remember him for pothole-free roads, cleanliness and accessibility.
Jayaram, a resident of Shivajinagar ward, says, “This is one of the few roads that was cemented for the first time in the city. We still do not have potholes on it. Works undertaken during Chloan’s period still reminds us about his honesty. It is very difficult to find a politician like him these days.”
T R Shamanna
A man of principle who Treated All Equally
Elected: Corporator from Thyagarajanagara ward in 1957
MLA from Kote constituency in 1968 and 1971
Although more than 22 years have elapsed since Tirumale Ranganatha Shamanna died, residents of Thyagarajanagara and surrounding areas remember Shamanna as a politician who was accessible to the poorest of the poor in his ward.
People who had seen T R Shamanna’s political growth from a corporator to a Lok Sabha member, opine that the state of affairs in the country would have improved, if every politician in the country had emulated Shamanna. Recollecting Shamanna’s contribution, retired assistant manager of HMT Indrasen Naidu says, “We used to consider him as the Gandhi of Karnataka. He was accessible round-the-clock and used to treat everyone equally. Unlike the modern day politicians, Shamanna used to spend his personal money to help the needy. He had the courage to stand by his principles against all odds, which the modern day politicians lack.”
Shamanna’s auto driver D M Shivanna still misses Shamanna. Shivanna says that Shamanna was so popular that people voted for the candidate whom Shamanna asked them to vote for in elections. He was instrumental in defeating Kengal Hanumanthaiah in 1972 elections. Shamanna was the only Janatha Party candidate to win Parliamentary elections from the state in 1980. Shamanna was a patron of learning and served many educational institutions. He was associated with Vijaya College and Acharya Patashala as a trustee, secretary and vice president of National College and helped BMS college procure land for its premises. As the chairman of Board of Visitors of Victoria Hospital, Shamanna started transit centre for patients and their relatives, who visited the hospital from distant places. It was later emulated by Kidwai Hospital. As the chairman of Central Relief Committee, Shamanna was instrumental in setting up Beggar’s Rehabilitation Centre across the state. Shamanna donated his entire property to a trust in his native place, Tirumalae, in Magadi.
People still remember Shamanna for a movement he was part of to get the cycle tax and water cess abolished in Bangalore. Shamanna spent 40 years in serving people before he died on August 30, 1990, at the age of 78 years.