BENGALURU: The Karnataka Assembly elections has a lot of doctors in the poll fray; not just old-timers or sons of politicians, but those who are actively practising medicine now and intend to quit their practice, and make the state healthy if elected. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has extended support to doctors contesting elections across party lines.
Among doctors who are contesting elections for the first time are Dr GV Manjunath from BJP, Chikkabalapur constituency. He has been an orthopaedic surgeon for 33 years and runs a 50-bedded hospital called Manjunath Hospital in Chikkabalapur. At 61, the impending elections will be the first time he will be testing electoral waters.
"In a career spanning over three decades, I have done more than 4,000 surgeries. Just yesterday, I operated upon my sister's son-in-law. I worked as a duty doctor for a Christian institute for 12 years and during my service, I saw a lot of injustices meted out to people. There is large-scale corruption in my constituency and elections are a money game. I wanted to see if I can win the polls without the money factor. If I become an MLA, I will still provide consultation for two hours everyday," Manjunath said.
His wife, Dr Savithri P (58) is a gynaecologist and will take over the reins of the hospital if Manjunath is elected. As the president of the IMA in Chikkabalapur and as the head of the anti-quackery cell, he said that in 2016, he had got a lot of quacks arrested who were endangering the lives of patients. Dr Preethan Nagappa, another first-timer, is a gastroenterologist contesting from Hennur for BJP. He is the son of BJP leader Parimala Nagappa.
Dr HD Ranganath, Energy Minister DK Shivakumar's co-brother is an orthopaedic surgeon as well. He is contesting from Kunigal for the Congress. Though he has been a doctor for 15 years, his practice weaned off in the past four to five years. "I was involved in party work in my constituency. I'm still learning the political ropes but having the help of a minister helps. My father was a farmer and I have seen how hard village life is," Ranganath said.
Dr SK Sreenivas Kariyanna contesting from Shivamogga Rural for Congress, was an orthopaedic surgeon at a city-based government hospital. He will be contesting for the first time and has quit medical practice.
The Indian National Congress has the maximum number of doctors in the poll fray, with some of them having founded hospitals too. Dr Devraj Patil (Badami), Dr Ajay Singh (Jevargi), Dr G Parameshwara (Koratagere), Dr K Sudhakar (Chikkabalapur), Dr Ravishankar (KR Nagar), Dr AB Maalakareddy (Yadgir), Dr Sharanprakash Patil (Sedam), Dr Umesh Jadhav (Chincholi), Dr Mahesh C Nalwad (Hubbali-Dharwad-Central), Dr HA Shanmukhappa (Chitradurga), Dr B Raghu (Sullia), Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah (Varuna) and Dr HC Mahadevappa (T Narsipur). Doctor candidates from BJP include Dr Vishwanatha Patil (Bailhongal), Dr Shivaraj Patil (Raichur), Dr CN Ashwathnarayan (Malleshwaram) and Dr YA Narayanaswamy (Hebbal).
Contesting for the third time
Yalagund Basanaik Naik is contesting from Yamakanmardi constituency in Belagavi district from Karnataka Janatha Paksha (KJP). The 44-year-old registered medical practitioner (RMP) has contested twice before, once from KJP and once from JD (S) and lost, but hasn't given up. "There is water problem in my constituency. As an RMP, I know the health problems of the people here and will make public health my priority if elected," he said.