The four gentlemen — B. Narayanaswamy, B.N. Kengegowda, T. Venkataramanaiah and S. Linganna — are sterling examples of a few who held and chaired public offices with honesty and diligence. Rare qualities in the current scenario whose examples shall brighten the darkness surrounding the public domain of the present era.
By M.L. Krishnaswami
Having gone through an article on B. Narayanaswamy, a former Chairman of the then City Improvement Trust Board (CITB, now renamed as MUDA), I am tempted to write about three more former Chairmen of the same institution. The three stalwarts are: B.N. Kengegowda, T. Venkataramanaiah and S. Linganna. All three were staunch Congressmen of the now forgotten Gandhian mould and their asset was their sterling personal character exhibited in their discharging of the assigned duties in the official field. They were incorruptible to the core — a rare quality of the present day.
Mysore was a relatively small town those days with the population not exceeding four or five lakh and the pressure on land was not so acute.
The present state of affairs is quite different with the city’s population, inclusive of surrounding mushrooms of dozens of private layouts and a dozen or so tiny rural urban agglomerates almost contiguously touching the city on its borders, reaching near about two million or so. Naturally, therefore, it is not easy to administer the ever-increasing problems of the city as regards roads, drainage, electricity, transport and what have you or have not. Even then absolute honesty and strength of character should become the true traits of an administrator. There should not be any second thought about this.
Not diverting away from the main subject, I should say that the three gentlemen named above, who headed the CITB in the days gone-by, have left an indelible hallmark on the civic affairs of the city.
For one, I happened to personally know two of the above three namely, S. Linganna and B.N. Kengegowda. My cousins had a business establishment on Sayyaji Rao road and being Congressmen themselves one of them became an MLA also, the above two gentlemen used to visit them quite often and that was how I had interaction there with them. I was also running a small scale industry unit in Yadavagiri Estate and Kengegowda, being a resident of the area, would go for a walk in the evening and many a time would barge into my Unit, especially on days when I ran an evening shift.
Both of us would engage ourselves in some talk or other and many a time he would suggest me to apply for and get an industrial land in the southern part of the city which would come to good use when I think of expanding my activities. He would even suggest that I make an application in this regard and he would honour the same and give necessary sanction. Suitable instalments of payment for the said land would also be given, he would aver.
But I regret that I did not avail myself of the offer. If I remember correctly, Devaraj Urs Road was visualised and works completed in Kengegowda’s time. What a great civic contribution to the city that is growing at breakneck speed now. The area that is now the ‘Urs Road’ was known as “Belli Katte Meesalu,” whatever it meant I do not know. It was dotted by some paan-shops, small traders and what have you. Naturally, the area was notorious with minor group clashes and allied events. It was a real herculean effort to convert such an area into a beautiful commercial enclave which is now the main business district of the city. Congrats to the then CITB for their strenuous efforts put up in this endeavour.
I do not know much about T. Venkataramanaiah and if I remember correctly he was living in Ittigegud, now renamed Indiranagar. Somehow, I am not for changing the existing names of extensions, roads, circles etc., because each of these one will have some historical significance of great value. There are umpteen number of roads and circles which are crying for a name, is it not? Then, why deface the old one and put a new one in its place?
Good number of developments were taken up and completed in Venkataramanaiah’s time. He was also a strict Gandhian of his time and used his official car for office work only.
The next gentleman I am writing about in this connection is S. Linganna, a simple and senior Congressman of those days. He was also in the Ittigegud- Nazarbad area of the city and was responsible for forming many layouts in the city. Absolutely honest to the core, he also used his official car as Chairman only for official duties and otherwise he would take a city bus or a jatka for his personal errands. If the top man in any organisation or company is dead honest and scrupulous to the core, this genuine trait will trickle down the hierarchy and permeate to the lower strata. Some times he also used to spend an evening in my cousin’s business place on Sayyaji Rao road and if any one known to him would meet him there and request for sanction of a site or some other work connected with his office, he would ask him to see him in his office and if the case is genuine he would call the necessary case worker for connected papers and append his signature for immediate action.
The above four gentlemen are sterling examples of a few who held and chaired public offices with honesty and diligence — rare qualities in the current scenario whose examples shall brighten the darkness surrounding the public domain of the present era.