Karnataka

Family recalls leader on Varamahalakshmi

A file photo of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj performing Varamahalakshmi puja with family members of doctor B.S. Srinivasmurthy in Ballari.

A file photo of former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj performing Varamahalakshmi puja with family members of doctor B.S. Srinivasmurthy in Ballari.  

For Ballari doctor B.K. Srinivasmurthy and his family, the Varamahalakshmi festival this Friday brings a flood of memories. It was on this occasion in 1999 that Sushma Swaraj, former External Affairs Minister who passed away on Tuesday, performed puja with his family and did so every year till 2011.

Sushma, who was in a bitter electoral battle against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in 1999, stayed with Dr. Srinivasmurthy’s family for 18 days. During her stay, she got acquainted with the festival and started celebrating it.

A few days ago, Dr. Srinivasmurthy had called Sushma and invited her to come for the festival this year, but she had said she would not be able to make it. Dr. Srinivasmurthy recalled that when Sushma’s candidature was finalised on August 18, 1999, he got a call from the BJP’s headquarters in Bengaluru asking him to be a proposer when she would file nomination papers. That evening, Sushma fell ill and Dr. Srinivasmurthy was summoned to treat her. “Next morning, she expressed her desire to stay with my family until the elections were over. She stayed with us for 18 days,” the doctor told The Hindu.

She developed a special bond with the family, learnt their culture and customs and participated in the Varamahalakshmi festival. She publicly announced her decision to come to town every year for the puja. Her association with the puja tied well with the way she was projected by the party through the campaign, a “swadeshi” versus a “videshi”.

Sushma kept her word till 2011. “In 2012, she told us that she would not be able to come for the puja,” Dr. Srinivasmurthy recalled. “But we kept in touch.” On why she discontinued her visits after 2011, he said, “I don’t know the exact reason. But I assume that it was political.”

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 5:44:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/family-recalls-leader-on-varamahalakshmi/article28873670.ece

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