interview/Konandur Lingappa Karnataka 2018

‘Intellectuals, activists should stand by honest candidates’

The election held for Tirthahalli Assembly segment in 1972 saw the son of a porter, who hails from a numerically small caste, winning. Konandur Lingappa, now 84, had won from the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). His father Ramanna worked as a porter at Tirthahalli bus stand even after his son became an MLA.

Mr. Lingappa now lives in a house on a 30x40 site in Shivamogga city and travels around on a moped. Though he has kept away from active politics, he can be seen at cultural programmes held here.

In an interview, Mr. Lingappa said that 1972 was an election to remember as the voters made donations to meet the poll expense of the candidate.

Excerpts from the interview:

What made you to plunge into electoral politics?

Shantaveri Gopala Gowda, charismatic socialist leader who had participated in Kagodu Satyagraha, a struggle launched by the landless peasants in Kagodu village in Sagar taluk in 1951 against landlords that lead to introduction of land reforms in Karnataka, was my inspiration. He won from Sagar in 1952 from Tirthahalli segment in 1962 and 1967 as a candidate of the PSP. Mr. Gowda was the ‘political guru’ for many socialists like me. When he became ill, the party was looking for a suitable candidate for Tirthahalli segment for the 1972 election. I was fielded as a candidate as per the suggestion of novelist Poornachandra Tejaswi and farmers’ leader Kadidal Shamanna.

How did you mobilise funds for the election?

As I had just begun my law practice, I didn’t have money to meet the expenses for an election. After delivering speeches at election campaign meetings, I used to spread out a towel and collect donations from the people. I collected ₹8,300 as donation but the actual expenditure was at ₹5,000. The rest of the money was used to meet the medical expenses of Mr. Gowda, who was hospitalised.

What role did the caste factor play in that election?

As I belonged to the Bhovi community that forms a small chunk of population in Tirthahalli segment, many thought that I would lose. However, Kagodu Satyagraha had created a fine base for ideological politics in Malnad region then.

How was your campaigning?

Writers U.R. Ananthamurthy and Poornachandra Tejaswi were star campaigners for socialists then. Even writer Devanuru Mahadeva and Raitha Sangha leader N.D. Sundaresh had also campaigned for me. In the speeches at election campaign meetings, they used to highlight the need to introduce land reforms.

What is your opinion on the present-day politics and elections?

It is unfortunate that caste and religion-related issues are dominating the election discourse in Karnataka at present. Issues like agrarian crises, the deforestation, unemployment, poor condition of government schools and hospitals, the problems faced by landless and homeless poor are not raised. The role of money in the elections should be minimised to save democracy. The present elected representatives of all major political parties are indulging in corrupt practices on the pretext that they need money to meet election expenses.

What role can writers and intellectuals play in elections?

I could win the election because of active participation of writers and social activists in campaigning. The intellectuals and social activists should stand by honest candidates, who are competent to bring meaningful change in the lives of the people.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 4:03:08 AM |

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