A function organised by Basava Vedike at Ravindra Kalakshetra here on Tuesday to confer the Basavashree and the Vachana Sahityashree awards brought to fore the ongoing “cold war” between the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda.

The increasing gap between Mr. Sadananda Gowda and Mr. Yeddyurappa was literally visible. Though they shared the dais after a long time, they sat apart with a vacant chair in between.

Mr. Yeddyurappa began his speech saying that the platform was not meant to speak politics. However, he went on to speak his heart out, in a choked voice, taking digs at his political detractors. A composed-looking Mr. Sadananda Gowda retaliated couching his views in poetic metaphors.

In his address, Mr. Yeddyurappa expressed discontent over the government not taking up work on setting up the Basaveshwara Study and Research Centre, for which he had allocated Rs. 25 crore. The good work he had done during his three-year tenure was not acknowledged, and he was instead made a scapegoat, he said.

Reciting poet-saint Akka Mahadevi's Vachana “Bettadamelondu maneya maadi…” the former Chief Minister said that he would not lose his temper in the face of the criticism being levelled against him. He had faced a series of tests, and many had conspired against him. He sought to know whether being born in the Veerashaiva community was a mistake and appealed to the Veerashaiva community to make attempts to understand who had plotted against him.

“I am not afraid to spend 10 years in jail, but people should know the truth,” he said.

Taking a dig at the intellectual community, he dared a committee of intellectuals to conduct a trial into the allegations levelled against him. “The former Lokayukta even criticised the judgment quashing the allegations against me. Is it right?” he asked.

However, in his address, Mr. Sadananda Gowda, in an indirect reference, said that that no person would evolve as a “power” on his own; society had a role in grooming his strength. It was necessary for one to shed his selfishness and work for society humbly, he added.

Accumulation of wealth was not the yardstick to judge a person, and morality was quintessential for a person in public life, he said. “Reform should began within, not outside,” he quipped. Reciting from “Hanate”, a poem by G.S. Shivarudrappa, he said that shedding selfishness and ego would help one become great.

Poet Chennaveera Kanavi and singer Kasturi Shankar were conferred the Basavashree and the Vachana Sahityashree awards.