Does Shankaralinge Gowda own K.R. Hospital?

Although it is not known if there is a history to (or a reason behind) their animosity, there is something deeply disturbing about Saturday’s altercation between Chamaraja MLA H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda and the citizens’ activist, M. Lakshmana, on the K.R. Hospital issue.  

Considering that the same activist has also been at the receiving end of the Corporators's ire on similar issues in the past, the conclusion is inescapable: that our power-drunk elected representatives have forgotten that in a democracy vox populi vox dei, the voice of the people is the voice of god.

More worryingly, our MLAs and Corporators are beginning to act like modern maharajas, as if their constituencies and wards are their private fiefdoms over which nobody else shall trample or cast an uncharitable eye. (On second thoughts, were our maharajas ever so arrogant in pblic?)

Saturday’s fracas is extraordinary considering how small the matter of dispute was. 

All that Lakshmana sought to do, or so the newspapers tell us, was to hand over a memorandum “on behalf of the people” to the medical education minister Dr V.S. Acharya on K.R. Hospital.

What could be so patently wrong with this?

But to see reports of Gowda snatching away the memorandum and to see Gowda question the locus standi of Lakshmana in mustering such a memorandum and to see Gowda addressing Lakshmana in the singular (and vice-versa) reflects poorly on the public conduct of the MLA (and the activist in the last instance). 

And it reveals an even poorer desire to understand and empathise with what ordinary citizens are going through at K.R. Hospital without bringing personal egos into the frame.

The Krishnarajendra Hospital, lest it has been forgotten, is nobody’s private property. It may fall in the MLA’s Chamaraja constituency, but it is a facility that citizens from every constituency of the district and beyond use.  

It is in a horrendous shape thanks to political and administrative apathy.

It is a matter of deep shame that it has been allowed to become what it has become by its students, faculty and glittering alumni.  

But it also needs to be rescued. Anybody is free to do that. It so happens that Lakshmana has made it his life’s mission. This is surely something Shankaralinge Gowda should welcome, even if he has reservations about Lakshmana’s methods or motivations? 

On the other hand, to see Gowda prevent K.R. Hospital’s problems from reaching the ears of the minister, who is a doctor himself, does not reflect well at all on an MLA who is being tipped for a ministerial berth, and who, instead of working with those fighting for its revival, sees it is as an attack on his personal turf.

Pretty much the same attitude is on display from our Corporators, who have opposed Lakshmana’s interventions in the drinking water issue.

Instead of combating the problem head on and providing the people a respite from the “water crisis” summer after summer, our Corporators have been happy to target those who question the Corporation’s competence and efficiency. 

Both in the case of the K.R. Hospital and the drinking water episode, the same question can be asked: why are our elected representatives so reluctant to bat on behalf of the people?  

Why are they so concerned about themselves, and why do they take everything as a personal affront? 

If our MPs and MLAs and Corporators haven’t received the memo, here it is: we are in a democracy and dictatorial tendencies will not just do.