Adieu my gentleman politician: ‘Mayor’ Vasu
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

Adieu my gentleman politician: ‘Mayor’ Vasu

March 17, 2024

One of the familiar names among the politicians, especially Congress politicians, in our city since early 1980s was that of Vasu. Simply Vasu, without any initials, any prefix or suffix to his name.

As a politician, he rose to become a Corporator and then the Mayor of the city during 1989-90 and also an MLA from the Chamaraja Constituency. I have known him since about early 1980s when Star of Mysore and Mysuru Mithra offices and the printing press were in Saraswathipuram near Kamakshi Hospital. He was then the foot soldier of Congress party and a legman for the peers in the party serving them more or less as a man Friday. As such it was clear that he came from a humble family.

I remember Vasu as a young man, peering into my office chamber holding press notes related to City Congress Party’s programme or some VIP’s visit to city. Very humble and sweet mannered boy that he was, with a faint smile on his face he would request me to publish the press note, I would always oblige him more out of a liking for him than out of love for the Congress party that was under the eclipse of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. At that time my reporters would say he was a toughie.

Over the years Congress party and Indira Gandhi had a meteoric rise enabled by the squabbling Janata party that itself got splintered into ginger groups. 

Be that as it may, with the rise of Congress party in Mysuru city, the local Congress workers and leaders came alive and rose in ranks according to their personal ability and political connections at higher levels. Among them Mayor Vasu was one. By now, he also came in touch with a very powerful and influential Congress political leader Dr. M. Veerappa Moily. Thereafter, he never looked back. He also stopped visiting our office for the obvious reason he had others to do that kind of job.

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By this time, I had become Vasu’s friend and I had many occasions where we shared the stage together and also broke bread together. I was surprised that he was a teetotaller. I used to frequent his house in Siddarthanagar for getting some work done for myself and my friends from the local bodies and the government. His garage was converted to a reception room, full of waiting people. However, I had free passage.

Happily, he had very good networking with the government officers and politicians across all parties. This was an advantage for all those who approached him for help. I was a recipient of his hospitality for breakfast or lunch in his house at Siddarthanagar and his wife Lalitha, a charming lady, who pre-deceased him, was an extraordinary hostess.

I remember approaching him for personal help in dealing with Government Departments. I was surprised when he said that he would take me personally in his car to Bengaluru to solve the problem and he did. His helping nature was well-known. No wonder in Mysuru there is rarely a household which has not heard his name, Mayor Vasu.

It is a small wonder how a standalone name Vasu could have a prefix ‘Mayor’ to his name. When he became the Mayor of Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) in the year 1989-90 it was also the year of 60th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana being held in Mysuru city. By virtue of his office as a Mayor he became the Chairman of the Reception Committee and naturally he was making news almost on a daily basis wherein he was addressed as Mayor Vasu. And this prefix ‘Mayor’ stuck to his name forever and he became Mayor Vasu.

In the meanwhile, though he aspired to contest the Assembly election he was not able to get the opportunity due to the vagaries of politics in the Congress party. It was then that he shifted his focus to establishing an educational institution and established an engineering college under the name Vidya Vikas Educational Trust   (VVET) on Bannur Road which has now many other graduate colleges as well.

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Vasu was a coffee addict. In fact, he would call a couple of friends and hold his coffee session or call it coffee durbar in a few selected restaurants.  Being a very soft-spoken person, he would go rambling on any issue that would arise for discussion. Of course, every time it would be Vasu who would be paying the bill.

I was unaware that he was stricken by some serious ailment in the last few months till such time my friend Bhamy V. Shenoy of MGP told me. Bhamy had paid a courtesy call on Vasu at his residence  before leaving for US and was surprised to see him too feeble, weak and on wheelchair. Immediately, I went to his house only to find him lying on the bed being attended by paramedics, his sons and daughters-in-law. He spoke to me in an endearing manner, like always, and made light of his illness, saying he would soon come out of it. Sadly, within a couple of weeks he passed away.

My homage to a gentleman politician and a most dependable friend Mayor Vasu might not be complete if I do not record here the unsolicited support and sympathy he showered on me in the year 1993 when I was admitted to Wockhardt Hospital on Cunningham Road in Bengaluru. After hosting a dozen of my friends and family members, along with me, in the Airlines Hotel, opposite to the hospital, he accompanied me to the hospital and holding me by my hand very quietly asked if I needed money for the hospital expenses. I was deeply touched.

Rest in Peace, Dear Vasu.

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Mysuru’s favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 45 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it’s readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.

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