Minister dined at his friend's 'one last time'

Minister dined at his friend's 'one last time'

Former MLA I B Shankar had hosted H S Mahadeva Prasad on Monday night

Former MLA I B Shankar couple were in loss of words, when the news of the death of Minister for Cooperation and Sugar H S Mahadeva Prasad reached them.

When the couple hosted the minister and his entourage on Monday night, little did they know that it would be their last meeting with their family friend.

Mahadeva Prasad and Shankar had known each other since the Karnataka Kranthi Ranga days. When the then chief minister D Devaraj Urs quit the Congress to found the Kranthi Ranga, Prasad was the president of undivided Mysuru district unit of the Ranga, while Shankar was heading its Chikkamagaluru unit. However, it was in the later days, that they developed a bond and remained close friends. Whenever Prasad came to Chikkamagaluru, he was a regular to Shankar’s house.

On Monday too, Prasad was travelling near Hiremagalur around 8.30 pm, when he called Shankar on the latter’s cell phone. Shankar, who had gone for coffee pulp, returned home asking his wife Uma to prepare dinner.

Prasad and his entourage, that included his friends, personal assistants and gunman, were treated to sumptuous food that included dishes like chicken, mutton, rice rotti, kadubu and also idli. Prasad, who also took curd rice and a peg of whiskey, told Shankar, “I cannot stop eating curd rice despite the cold weather.”

When Shankar insisted on Prasad staying overnight, Prasad refused with a heavy heart saying, “I too don’t want to miss the early morning coffee.” However, he promised to visit them again during his next visit to the district, recalled Shankar, who was trying to hold back his tears.

Had invited leaders
Chikkamagaluru District Congress Committee president Dr D L Vijaykumar, who recalled his conversation with the minister over phone, said, “The minister called during night hours, inviting the party leaders to join him for breakfast in the resort at 8.30 am.

Likewise, I, along with chairman of Jungle Lodges and Resorts A N Mahesh couple, leaders T D Rajegowda and M C Shivananda Swamy went to the resort and waited for him. As the minister did not come out of the cottage he was staying in, we suspected something fishy. The staff was asked to open the door, only to see him dead.”

Close pals
Prasad’s close pals, film producer Y N Shankare Gowda of ‘Ishta Kamya’ fame, who is also the director of Karnataka State Marketing Federation, and former president of Gundlupet Town Municipal Council Najeemuddin, had accompanied their friend from Mysuru to Chikkamagaluru and were staying in the opposite room. They were dumbstruck on hearing the news.

They said they regularly travelled with the minister whenever he went on tours to other districts. However, he never missed his morning stroll. It was only after returning from his morning walk did the minister wake them up.

When their friend did not turn up, Shankare Gowda and Najeemuddin thought that he may have gone to bath after returning from walk. As the clock ticked, they turned anxious and tried to reach him over phone, but in vain. They knocked on the door of his cottage, but there was no response. They later peeped through the window, to see him sleeping. It was then that they summoned the resort staff to open the door.

Complained of fatigue
According to them, the minister had complained of fatigue due to his busy schedule as he had attended three programmes in the day. He had also complained of eating much at the food festival during the ongoing scouts jamboree at Adakanahally near Nanjangud in Mysuru district.

Vision for MM Hills
Recalling their friend’s vision for developing Male Mahadeshwara Hill shrine, the duo said, “A site to set up an information centre had also been identified in Mysuru. He had plans to invite Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to dedicate the centre.”

It was heart rending to see the people, especially Congress workers, who had lined up en route Koppa to welcome the minister with garlands. The minister was scheduled to inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations of the Sahakara Sarige Samsthe.

Emotional Congress workers told DH, “We had brought garlands from Sangameshwara Pete. Now, we have to lay the same on the minister’s body, as a mark of respect to departed soul.”