MYSURU: The farmers’ movement in Karnataka that made sporting a green shawl a symbol of a farmer’s pride, and kept both politicians and bureaucrats on their toes when dealing with agriculture affairs stands orphaned with the passing away of its leader MLA K S Puttannaiah on Sunday.
The Karnataka Sarvodaya Paksha (KSP) legislator represented Melkote in the state assembly, after he got elected from there in 2013. Puttannaiah was the sole elected representative of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, which represents the farming community in the state assembly. The 69-year-old leader from Kythanahalli in Pandavapura taluk, spearheaded the farmers’ movement for over four decades and was the beacon of hope for farmers and workers of the unorganised sector in the state. Hailing from a farming family, Puttannaiah joined the Raitha Sangha movement after graduating from D Banumaiah College.
Puttanniah excelled at analysing the impact of new economic policies that affected farmers, a community he empathised with. He projected his views on these matters through a number of fora. His ability to speak fluently in Hindi, Tamil and English, apart from Kannada, helped him in this cause. Known for presenting serious issues with an element of humor, he never compromised on ethos of humanity, equality and social harmony.
Despite the good rapport he struck with H D Deve Gowda, S M Krishna, J H Patel, Dharam Singh, B S Yeddyurappa and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Puttanniah turned down a number of invites to join state and national parties, thus demarcating between friendship and politics.Despite successive defeats in three assembly and Lok Sabha elections after holding the Pandavpura constituency seat in 1994, he did not lose heart, and went on to win from Melukote in 2013. He, though, filled the vacuum that the death of Prof Nanjundaswamy created.
He used his friendship with chief ministers to prevail upon successive governments to invest crores of rupees to revive Pandavapura Sugar and Mysugar factories.He always had a say in the fixing of the price of sugarcane, and voiced the concern of farmers when prices of agriculture produces crashed.The last rites of Puttannaiah will be conducted at his native Kyatanahalli in Pandavapura taluk, Mandya distrit, on Wednesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Puttannaiah. He said Puttannaiah has dedicated his life for causes of the farming community.