When the Vidhana Soudha looked like Tirupati

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Assembly hall of the Vidhana Soudha had gradually turned into a must-see tourist spot in Bangalore beating the likes of Dodda Ganapathy, museum, Bannerghatta zoo, Lal Bagh, etc.

I was one of the lucky ones to get a seat on the KSTDC bus that held a conducted tour every day.

When we reached the venue, Vidhana Soudha resembled Tirupati with pilgrims/visitors waiting in long queues to get a darshan of MLAs staging a dharna in the House.

Some pilgrims/visitors were complaining they could get more time in Tirupati to catch a darshan of Thimmappa than they could get to see Nanaiah.

But our driver–cum-guide was quite confident of getting us our money’s worth.

“It is not for nothing I have paid enough to get the last visit of the day allotted to us. There won’t be any restrictions. If some of you want to join them, you are free to do so. Yellargu chennagi thinsidini.”

As we approached the MLAs, the guide continued: “Stay with me and listen to me. You will get the inside story. They have just finished dinner. The vegetarian dishes came from Adigas. Hotel Atria and Eden Park supplied the non-veg items. Now they are waiting for desserts from Corner House.”

“What is the that tiny room with officers at the desk at this hour,” I asked.

“BBMP have opened a small office to streamline water supply, garbage and sewerage clearance. They have opened special ‘do-it-here’ kiosks for the convenience of protesters. Before the session starts, they clean the whole area and spray lavender perfume all over the place. The place has two distinct smells, one is lavender and the other is….”

“No need to mention that, please,” interrupted Ramesh Ramanathan of Janagraha who is a champion of civic rights in Bangalore and specialises in bringing transparency into BBMP work.

“How are they able to manage legislature work as well as dharna in the same place and at the same time?” asked MindTree’s Subroto Bagchi, an authority on work culture.

“That’s the beauty, sir. They are living where their work is and are working amidst their daily life. Nobody can tell the difference. They are fighting against corruption in politics even as they eat, snore and rush for nature’s calls,” said our guide.

“This is an unusual symbiosis. I know the “home-office” method of working. But the “office-home” concept is revolutionary; must study this in detail,” said Bagchi self-importantly.

As we were going around, the MLAs broke into a chaotic chorus of the song, KuNiyoNa bara, KuNiyoNa bara.

The reason for the sudden outburst was the arrival of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda along with his son and former chief minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, to look up H.D. Revanna.

“How do they manage to sing songs while doing dharna?” asked Rajesh Krishnan, playback singer and music composer who had taken a break from his recording sessions.

“Old Kannada songs are the backbone of their struggle for power. It is because of this they are able to sleep better here than they could ever sleep at home,” justified our guide.

“If they had shown the same zeal and dedication all these years in their work, Karnataka would not be so backward and would not be amongst the top in corruption,” thundered a voice.

When we looked in its direction, it was not difficult to identify the voice.

It belonged to Shakuntala Narasimhan, crusader of consumer interest and an expert in Carnatic and Hindustani music among countless skills.

Just then the desserts arrived and the MLAs got busy eating.

Meanwhile somebody suggested they must eat dry fruits to stay healthy and some MLAs ran out to buy whatever was available from Russel Market in Shivaji Nagar.

As we were about to leave after the darshan, we heard that there was an arathi every night for its success.

Suddenly, the  Purohithru who seemed to be in a hurry to finish the arathi and catch Heegu Unte on TV9, dropped the  silver thatte.

***

My wife was banging on the plate to wake me up. I had dozed off after breakfast while watching the daily nautanki on television, and it was already time for lunch.

“You are just like the MLAs in Vidhana Soudha,” she said, “busy with only ‘ooo-ma-hey’.”