Special Correspondent

Chief Minister questions the writer's contribution to Karnataka

Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and the Janata Dal (Secular) led by H.D. Deve Gowda have come together to hit out at the candidature of Jnanpith Award winner U.R. Ananthamurthy in the March 28 elections to the Rajya Sabha from the State Assembly.

On his part, Dr. Ananthamurthy has said that he was a serious contender and not the one offering a token fight. He has reiterated that he was contesting to uphold the dignity and pride of Kannadigas and Karnataka.

Monday is the last date for withdrawal of nominations. The contest has become inevitable following the announcement by Dr. Ananthamurthy. There is another candidate, Rajappa Channappa, industrialist, taking the number of candidates to six for the four seats to be filled from the State. It is becoming clear that the opposition to Dr. Ananthamurthy's candidature is because he is being backed by some of the Janata Dal (S) MLAs who are with the All-India Progressive Janata Dal and those of smaller parties who had stood by the Congress and opposed the withdrawal of support to the previous government by the Kumaraswamy group of Janata Dal (S) legislators. Speaking to a television channel, the Chief Minister questioned Dr. Ananthamurthy's contribution to the State and even Kannada. He has not been helpful in the demand being put forth to secure classical language status for Kannada.

General secretary of the State unit of the Janata Dal (S) Y.S.V. Datta, who is a confidant of Mr. Deve Gowda, came out with a statement that no intellectual could buy Dr. Ananthamurthy's argument that he had entered the fray to uphold Kannadiga pride. However, he would not question his erudition and standing as a writer.

Mr. Datta reminded Dr. Ananthamurthy that fielding candidates from outside the State in the Rajya Sabha elections from the State Assembly was nothing new. The Janata Dal (S) leader pointed out that it was Mr. Deve Gowda, who protested when in 1986 the Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde got leading lawyer Ram Jethmalani elected to the Rajya Sabha. In fact, Mr. Deve Gowda had at that time tried to persuade some of the writers to contest against Mr. Jethmalani. But none responded. Dr. Ananthamurthy, who was an admirer of Ramakrishna Hegde, did not oppose the selection of Mr. Jethmalani.