Corridors

Pehalwans win a

‘bout’ with CM

Nearly 50 former veteran
p
ehalwan
s from
desi
wrestling hubs of Dharwad and Belagavi descended on Bengaluru recently to have a ‘bout’ with the Chief Minister. They had represented the State at national-level events and still train youngsters in the traditional art of khushti. The news that the JD(S)–Congress government plans to increase the monthly honorarium for senior citizens aged above 65 had brought them down to H.D. Kumaraswamy’s J.P. Nagar residence. They hoped to press him for a higher honorarium for senior wrestlers. The honorarium of Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 4,500 paid to State- and national-level
pehalwan
s, they later told reporters, was not sufficient for them to lead a dignified life. They were disappointed as the Chief Minister’s aides told them he cannot meet them; it was a busy day for him and his schedule included an event in which Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu participated. The officials offered to pass on their petition to the Chief Minister, but the wrestlers insisted on presenting it only to Mr. Kumaraswamy. They partook of their
rotti
s and went to Krishna, the home office of the Chief Minister.

They won this round, for Mr. Kumaraswamy heard about the waiting wrestlers and rushed to Krishna to hear their grievance. He assured them that he would consider their request while drafting the budget.

Losers’ luck?

A couple of defeated JD(S) legislators are vying for the posts of political secretary to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. After its understanding with the Congress, the JD(S) has very few headships of boards and corporations to spare for its legislators. As legislators began hectic lobbying for the posts, the party decided to appoint only MLAs as chairpersons of boards and corporations. And this move forced defeated JD(S) leaders to make a beeline for the political secretary posts. Among them, said sources, are C.B. Suresh Babu and Madhu Bangarappa
(in picture)
. Time should tell if they have the blessings of party supremo H.D. Deve Gowda.

Elephantine problem

A recent news conference of newly appointed Minister for Forests R. Shankar
(in picture)
was dominated by questions of human–elephant conflict. Whether it is Alur or forests around Bengaluru, the theatres of violence are the traditional elephant corridors involving thousands of acres of farmland. Conflicts with animals, elephants in particular, are the biggest challenge facing the Department of Forests now, Mr. Shankar agreed. About their solutions, he mentioned the hurdles to the department’s multi-crore-rupee plans. “The elephant is an intelligent animal,” he said with a tinge of surrender. “How much ever we try, it finds a way [to beat the solution.] It can adapt itself to any technology being used.”

Solar-electrified fences, for instance, have done little to stop the march of elephants into agricultural fields, while the progress on erecting fences using discarded rails is slow.

It was also evident that the Minister was yet to get a full grip on the matters of the department, but he rightly hedged a wrong question posed in the context of air pollution in Bengaluru. A reporter asked him about the city’s pH levels (which are actually used to measure the level of acidity or alkalinity, and not air pollution) compared with highly polluted Delhi. The Minister replied, “I don’t have the data, but I will gather them.” It was also his stock answer to most of the questions.

MP finds his ‘loan’ voice

Is many-time Congress MP K.H. Muniyappa
(in picture)
shedding crocodile tears over critical issues as the Lok Sabha elections are approaching? The veteran leader from Kolar, who barely raises the issue of farm loan waiver, recently attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Centre’s failure to write off farm loans. His speech sparked off a protest at a function organised in Kolar to mark the birth anniversary of Kempe Gowda. Protesting supporters of the BJP heckled the MP and told him not to talk politics at a Kempe Gowda commemorative. Mr. Muniyappa lost his cool. Stepping up his attack he said, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy would announce the loan waiver plan in the budget; let Mr. Modi write off farm loans if he cared for farmers. To which the former zilla panchayat member Balaji Chennaiah hit back, “Let the MP talk in Parliament about the plight of farmers, not in such anniversary events.”

Muralidhara Khajane

Nagesh Prabhu

Mohit M. Rao

Vishwa Kundapura

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