Minister apologises for remark

MYSORE AUG. 10. Bowing to pressure from dalit organisations, the Minister of State for Agro Processing, Raju Gowda, today tendered an unconditional apology at Kollegal, near here, for having allegedly insulted a dalit officer recently. The apology from the Minister came after calls from dalit organisations to observe a "Black Day" on August 15, and boycott of the Minister at public functions. Mr. Raju Gowda tendered the apology in front of the Assistant Director of Animal Husbandry, Basavalingaiah, at the taluk panchayat office. Leaders of the organisations were also present. The Minister had allegedly insulted Dr. Basavalingaiah during a review meeting at Kollegal on August 2. Requesting the organisations not to launch an agitation, Dr. Basavalingaiah said Mr. Raju Gowda should be pardoned as he had tendered an apology. Addressing the leaders, Mr. Raju Gowda said he did not abuse the officer, but had only spoken in a lighter vein. Recalling his association with Dr. Basavalingaiah, the Minister said that he joined politics with the late Puttaiah, the elder brother of Dr. Basavalingaiah. Since both hailed from the same village, he was close to the officer, he added. "I have become a prominent politician of the district with the blessings of dalit voters as Vokkaligas were only around 3,500 in Hanur constituency. When I am indebted to dalits, how can I insult a dalit officer? he asked. The agitators were pacified after the Minister with folded hands said: "If my remarks against the officer have hurt the feelings of the dalit community, I tender my apology unconditionally."