Karanth, Kuvempu, Gokak & the one by three car

Left to right: Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, D.V. Gundappa, K.V. Puttappa, M.V. Seetharamaiah, K.Shivarama Karanth, A.N. Krishna Rao and G.P. Rajaratnam. Photograph by T.S. Nagarajan, circa 1955

The conclusion of the world classical Tamil conference in Coimbatore has provided an opportunity for K. Vijay Kumar, former joint director of the Karnataka information and publicity department, to jog his memory on the world Kannada conference held in Mysore 25 years ago, in Star of Mysore.

“The inauguration of the conference received attention as the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was attending besides the great literary giants Kuvempu, Shivaram Karanth, V.K. Gokak and other well-known personalities.

“That was the time when highest tight security was being given to Rajiv Gandhi and this posed a real problem for us and the police in various matters. The venue was the vast open Palace grounds, and to control the entry of a large number of people from various gates around it was difficult.

“A late-night meeting was called by the then deputy inspector general of police (DIG), P.S. Ramanujam, himself a scholar, wherein he explained how he had been asked by the PM’s security people to minimise to the barest the entry of vehicles, even VIPs’, inside the Palace.

“We were worried about bringing Kuvempu, Karanth, Gokak together as they were the chief guests to be seated along with the PM on the dais and in fact, Kuvempu was to inaugurate the conference.

“The DIG said only one car for all the three with a pilot police jeep was permissible.

“Our [information and publicity] secretary Chiranjiv Singh and myself took the responsibility of bringing them to the palace. Karanth was staying at his son Ullas Karanth‘s place in Kuvempunagar; Kuvempu at his residence in V.V. Mohalla and Gokak was staying at Hotel Dasaprakash Paradise in Yadavagiri.

“We told the three previous night about picking them up in the morning. Accordingly, we picked up Karanth and reached Kuvempu’s house and Gokak also joined there. Kuvempu took some time as he was not too well and Dr. Prabhushankara was waiting with a soft pillow for Kuvempu in hand to accompany him.

“The time to reach Palace was already approaching. As Karanth began to look at his watch, Gokak suggested that he and Karanth would go in advance. Chiranjiv Singh asked the then director of information, B.N.S. Reddy, to accompany them. The car assigned for all the three had to take them with the pilot jeep.

“Then we began to plan as to how to enter the palace with Kuvempu though there was Chiranjiv’s car but without an escort police jeep which was a must. We had to rush as the time was short.

“Anyway, we reached the main gate of the palace and the crowd near the gate began to cheer ‘Kuvempu-Kuvempu’ seeing him in the car and the security personnel couldn’t stop the car entering the Palace. Chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde was also waiting to receive the poet. We heaved a sigh of relief.”

Text: courtesy Star of Mysore

Photograph: courtesy T.S. Nagarajan

Also read: A picture worth 7,000 words