Whenever Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is on his city rounds and goes to inspect places and interact with people (mind you, it is not all vote bank politics), there is generally a security ring around him. Holding each other's hands, his bodyguards form a circle around the Chief Minister, safeguarding him from the hoi polloi who want to get closer to him. On one such visit to a rain-affected area, a larger-than-expected crowd accosted Mr. Kumaraswamy, giving his security men some anxious moments. Later, the Chief Minister was heard telling Health Minister R. Ashok: "There were so many people pushing and jostling that my security guards kept stepping on my feet. My feet have bruises all over." So Mr. Ashok, who had tried to brave the crowd before deciding to seek refuge in his air-conditioned van, commiserated with him. "People would not let me near you even though I told them I was a Minister. They trampled all over my feet," he said, pointing to a nasty bruise on his right toe.
His or hers?
Policemen often have strange encounters while on duty. Recently, an officer, who was on night rounds, noticed a constable caning a hijra near Sir Puttanna Chetty Town Hall. He stopped his car to tell the man to stop it. The hijra walked to the officer and thanked him for coming to her rescue. But before she left, she told him she had a problem and needed help. Full of concern, he asked her what it was. "Sir, when I go to public toilet I am confused whether I should use the men's toilet or women's. Can you kindly guide me?" asked the hijra insouciantly and fled before the flabbergasted police officer could react.
Concern for audience!
The former vice-chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Dwarakinath, has the habit of standing up while addressing any meeting. Though this is common enough when addressing, Prof. Dwarakinath stands up even while addressing small indoor meetings attended by only four or five persons. He recently attended a round table conference which was attended by only three or four persons. As it was a small gathering, all the speakers spoke sitting down. When his turn came, Prof. Dwarakinath stood up and spoke despite the repeated requests of the organisers that he remain seated. Explaining his reasons, Prof. Dwarkinath said, "I have realised that speakers prolong their speeches without any concern for the poor audience or their time. If you stand up while speaking, at least you will realise after some time that your legs are paining. That is a signal to the speaker that it is time to wind up the speech in the interest of the audience. I am adopting a standing posture only to help you people."
Sometimes an unexpected query by a reporter in a press conference can take the discussion along the lines that the organisers would not have prepared for. S.V. Venkatesh, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Raman International Institute of Information Technology, which owns the IT-Finishing School in Mysore that is to be inaugurated next month, was caught unawares when asked whether any seats are reserved for the OBCs and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Mr. Venkatesh said that there was no reservation as the programme was merit-oriented. But the provocative question livened the session, and he gave details on how many ordinary students, many of them from these sections, would be benefited by the school. Some time ago, a reporter was instrumental in convincing the packaged water marketers to reduce the price by Rs. 2 a bottle. What he did was ask a simple and honest question whether it was correct for them to sell one litre of water at Rs. 14 when the price of a litre of milk was Rs. 12.
Not music to his ears
Looks as if criticism, more so by the television media, has become unpalatable for Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. When he was reviewing the storm water drain works in Kamakaya Layout recently, Mr. Kumaraswamy was visibly annoyed over the reports of a private channel on the storm water drain works. Surveying the throng of reporters around him, he asked which one was the channel's representative. As the reporter presented himself before him, Mr. Kumaraswamy snapped at him: "You blow the problem out of proportion. Why are you not telling about the good deeds of the Government too?" The startled reporter was silent but a resident chose to voice public sentiment: "Though we complain, your officials don't bother and only appear during your visit." But the Chief Minister was too involved in answering the queries of some people to hear the resident's comment.
B.S. Satish Kumar,
and Raghava M.