It is grassroots to the galaxy for many in fray

It is grassroots to the galaxy for many in fray


Almost three decades before a humble ‘chaiwallah’ became the prime minister, an ordinary private ‘bus loader’ had been the chief minister of Karnataka.

The late R Gundu Rao, who worked as a private bus loader (one who ferries passangers for private buses) in small town Kushalnagar in Kodagu district, made it to the chief minister’s post in 1981. Rao, the youngest of the chief ministers the state has seen so far, was son of a highly-respected school teacher Rama Rao.

Like Rao, several people from humble origins have made it to top political posts in the state and, many such are contesting the May 12 Assembly elections.

Apparently, the most prominent among them is Women and Child Development Minister Umashree who is seeking re-election as the Congress candidate from Terdal in Bagalkot district. The actor-turned politician from Koratagere in Tumakuru district used to sell idlis on Bengaluru’s pavements to make a living, before she took to acting. As she herself revealed recently, she has still preserved the aluminium idili cooker she used to cook idlis some three decades ago.

BJP’s star campaigner and candidate from Molakalmuru (ST) and Badami seats, B Sriramulu, may have declared assets worth several crores in his affidavit, but many are unaware of the humble beginings of Sriramulu, whose father was a porter at Bellary railway station. In the early Eighties, as many Ballarians recollect, Sriramulu worked as a milkman. On a bicycle, he used to supply milk to homes in Ballari’s Railway Colony and neighbouring Devinagar locality.

Former minister Revu Naik Belmagi, who quit the BJP recently and is in the fray as the JD(S) nominee from Gulbarga Rural (SC) seat is another such politician. This school dropout from a backward Lambani (Banjara) thanda (hamlet) was a village wrestler in his younger days. He used to regularly take part in wrestling competions held in rural areas of Kalaburagi, Bidar and neighbouring Maharashtra.

Two bigwigs in the fray--Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa are no different. Yeddyurappa, a native of Bookanakere in K R Pet taluk of Mandya district, migrated to Shikaripura in Shivamogga district in search of a job to support his family. In Shikaripura, he worked in Shankar rice mill owned by Veerabhadra Shastri for a meagre salary. Later, he married Shastri’s daughter Maithra Devi and made Shikaripura his political ‘karmabhoomi.’  

As he himself has reccalled many times, Siddaramaiah used to graze cattle in his village Siddaramanahundi in Mysuru district till he got admitted into a school at the age of 10. Desite the initial struggle, he did his BSc and LLB and went on to become a lawyer before he took the political plunge.