Remembering the man
– B.S. Somashekhar

He once tore the sheets of the governor’s speech on the floor of the Assembly to mark his protest against the Kannadiga Governor who delivered his speech in English; on another occasion he held the District Collector of his native constituency by his collar because he did not give an ear to the pleas of farmers; he even declined an offer to become the Chief Minister in a coalition ministry in 1971; he spent scores of sleepless nights listening to the vies of farmers; he readily took to the streets to strengthen the armors’ movement in the erstwhile State of Mysore; he always remained in the forefront as leader of the Opposition in the As embay, supporting the poor and the oppressed…. That was Shantaveri Gopalagowda, according to the recordings made in the commemoration volume on him. He was a member of the State Assembly in the `50s and ‘ 60s.

He was a man of kindness and compassion. He was one of those rare politicians who stood for honesty, simplicity and transiency. These qualities earned him an enviable position in the political history of the rest while Mysore State. He was the leader of the people in the rest while Mysore State. He was the leader of the people in the true sense and shaped the socialist movement After two decades of serving as a politician, he died in 1972 at the age of 49.

It is 26 years since he died and many of the present generation may not know him. This book helps one understand his life and work.

The book is being brought out by the Ram Manohar Lohiya Study Chirr at the Kannada University, Hampi, and has been edited by two Kannada professors. Prof. Kalegowda Nagavara and Dr. G.V. Ananda Murthy. Unlike several other commemoration volumes. It does not provide the biographical profile of Gopalgowda in a stringy forward manner but tries to reflect his image through recollections of his associates, friends, contemporaries and other public personalities, who had seen, heard and interacted with him.

Five of the eight sections in the book is based on such write ups, narrations and interviews. The other three sections include snatches from his diary, speeches in the Assembly and letters. Thus the book is an exhaustive attempt, perhaps the first of its kind in kannada literature, to retrace the life of a forgotten politician.

Since the editors have drawn the contents from several sources there are instances of glorified narrations. While there many be traces of such eulogizing reflected in the voices of his contemporaries, the book is free from other embellishments and success fully introduces Gopalagowda to the present – day reader. The first three sections reflects his views of the ideal code of conduct that a politician should follow, while the section coating the speeches shows his deep rooted concern for the welfare of the land, language, people and their culture. It is almost like a Bible for all present – day politicians.

All through, whether it is in the letter to his young wife of a page from his diary or an Assembly speech, his attitude shows an inherent concern. The book can also serve as a reference volume for contemporary political history students of Karnataka as it contains several incidents related to farmers’ movements and regional politics during the `50s and the `60s.

However, a more elaborate introductory Chapter by the editors and a more precise and relevant foreword would have added grace to the commendable effort behind compiling this volume. The line drawings that intersperse the pages appear more or less like caricatures and fail to match the seriousness of the book. Barring a few minor errors, the printing and production are of good quality. The book is worth an addition to one’s library and the price is affordable, too.

The volume was released at a formal function organized by the State Government Bangalore on June 9, 1998, which marked the 26th death anniversary of Gopalagowda.

Indian Express: 20.06.1998

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