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‘National parties cannot serve the cause of Kannada’

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Chandrashekar Patil
Chandrashekar Patil

K.N. Venkatsubba Rao

UDUPI: Sixty-eight-year-old Chandrashekar Patil shot to fame with his play “Tingara Buddanna”, during the Emergency.

He established his position as a writer and Kannada activist with the impassioned lines of his famous poem, “Kannada Kannada Barri Namma Sangada”, during the Gokak agitation in the early 80s.

With the passage of time, the then Dharwad-based professor of English carved out a niche for himself more as a Kannada activist than just a Kannada writer.

He is now the president of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat.

Popularly known as Champa, he was a leading critic of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat. He was elected to the post of president in 2004.

On the eve of the last literary convention that will be held during his term, in Udupi, Prof. Patil shared some of his thoughts on his chequered career in an interview with the The Hindu.

Q: Have you compromised your socialist outlook to head the parishat?

A: It is an irony of my cultural career. The parishat has been under the control of “upper castes” such as Brahmins, Lingayats and Jains for over 60 years. It will continue to be so. I took a keen interest in the parishat as an observer from 1996. I sensed that the organisation had not been responding to socio-political realities.

I contested the parishat’s elections in 2001 and lost. In 2004, I registered an impressive victory against all odds. Caste and cultural politics helped me win the elections. At that time, the number of parishat voters was 40,000. Now it has swelled to 75,000. By 2009, it will reach over 1 lakh. This will mean only a Lingayat from north Karnataka with a full grasp of the cultural scenario with a secular outlook can head the parishat.

Are you suggesting that you will contest again with an agenda?

I may contest after three years. The proclaimed agenda of the parishat has always been the development of Kannada. It is an inevitable part of regional development. This is a cultural, educational and political reality.

National parties cannot serve the cause of Kannada and address regional issues competently. Only regional parties with conviction and commitment can work wonders. Political parties in the State have been sensing the increasing Kannada consciousness. Huge crowds and media response for Kannada-related activities have drawn the attention of politicians. They have started sponsoring cultural and literary programmes at the district and taluk levels. They now talk of launching regional parties. The parishat must play a catalytic role in mobilising public opinion in favour of strong and committed regional parties.

You wanted to keep politicians away from cultural and literary conventions. Have you changed your stand?

I am against intellectually poor politicians who demand their presence in the cultural and literary events in view of the positions they hold. I have been in favour of a thoughtful and committed class of politicians who can brave the biased and opportunistic attitude and policies of national parties and contribute towards the cause of regional development. In the absence of an authoritative and ethically sound opposition party, cultural institutions such as the parishat must fill the vacuum effectively like the Fourth Estate.

What is your next step in literature or politics?

I have to complete many of my plays and essays. I am also interested in politics that will help the development of Kannada. It is a matter of time. I believe in the confluence of “man and momentum”. I will wait for that to happen.

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