May 30, 2008
Pics: Ganesh S Perla
Mangalore, May 30: Politics was religion for him for decades. Moreover, he had a vision to uplift the poor and backward communities of Dakshina Kannada. He believed that one should be there in politics to uplift the weaker sections of the community and that is precisely what he did. B V Kakkillaya, a freedom fighter, politician, thinker and writer stands unique among all the politicians for this reason. His rich experiences of life spanning almost nine decades are founded on the dream of establishing a secular socialist nation.
Kakkillaya is on the threshold of completing 90 years (On May 30, 2008) and even now every breath he takes is with the dream of having a secular and socialist India. His fans and followers are eager to take this opportunity to discuss various aspects of secular India while also trying to find solutions to the present problems.
He is sad about the present political thinking and the attitudes of the youth. According to him, people are totally disoriented and lack proper direction. A youth today desires to have a bike, mobile and a girlfriend. He does not envision dreams of taking the nation forward. At the same time, today politics has failed to fulfil the basic needs of the poor, he says in a melancholy tone.
During the freedom struggle, he was the voice for coastal Karnataka and spent six years in jails at Cannanore, Vellore, Bangalore, Ranebennur, Dharwad and Kadalur. The spirit of freedom struggle took birth in his house itself. His elder brother Shrinivas Kakkillaya removed all the portraits of swamijis and kings hanging on the walls of their house in Bevinje near Kasargod and replaced them with the portraits of freedom fighters. Even when he joined St Aloysius College in the year 1937 for intermediate studies, he became an active member of the student movement against the British rule. Anti-British feelings were strong in those days and B V Kakkillaya joined All India Students’ Federation to voice his indignation. He was a key member of the freedom movement in not only protesting against the British, but also showed his patriotism and humanism by serving selflessly in the flood-affected areas during his college days.
Communist Party of India (CPI), of which he became MLA for two terms in Bantwal and Vittal constituencies, has been totally banned by the British rulers. But CPI was active in gathering freedom fighters and thus helping the Congress party in leading the freedom movement. Freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Subhashchandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai and others were the heroes for them while film stars like Durga Kote were involved in calling the people to participate in the national movement, through their films.
Even when the interim government was formed in the country in 1935, the then Madras government had enacted a very impressive Farmers’ Debt Relief Act. This Act clearly stated that the bankers should not charge more than 6.15 percent interest from the farmers for the loan taken by them. Today the state governments have failed to safeguard the interests of the farmers and this is evident by the alarming rate of increase in farmers’ suicides, he lamented.
When the post-Independence era began, the nation was facing severe shortage of food owing to hoarding and blackmarketeering by businessmen. B V Kakkillaya himself participated in unearthing the food grains hoarded by the rich class and distributing them to poor. He even had to go through the gruelling task of coping with prison life, only because he tried to help the poor. He even helped the government in introducing the ration system effectively, immediately after Independence.
Land Reforms Act was enacted in the state when he was the MLA in Vittal constituency between 1978 and '83. He was in the forefront when it came to implement this Act effectively in his constituency. Accordingly, thousands of tenants became landlords. That is one of the reasons why his name is etched in the golden annals of Vittal constituency.
However, Kakkillaya today is sad about the fact that farmers who are the real owners of the fertile lands are losing them to businessmen, builders and land developers. Even Special Economic Zone is grabbing lands of the poor farmers. Therefore, the responsibility of the present government towards farmers has increased manifold. Moreover, real estate lobby is controlling political leaders, and it is futile to expect anything good from the politicians, he opines.
Communalism is a major issue about which Kakkillaya is passionate and more worried nowadays. People of all religions together fought for freedom once upon a time and shared the same food in jails when they were imprisoned. But it is disheartening to see the youth of today fighting in the name of religion. All the organizations which create enmity between people on the basis of religion should be banned, he urges.
Though he is on the verge of turning 90, age has not diminished his spirit nor affected his activities. Moreover, he is actively observing the political affairs happening around him. His admirers and friends have decided to celebrate his 90th birthday at Town Hall on Friday May 30 and Saturday 31 at Town Hall. His four brothers Dr Shrinivas Kakkillaya (Mangalore), Dr Venkatakrishna (USA), Dr Harish (USA) and Dr Subrahmanya (UK) have decided to make this event a grand occasion by organizing debates about current political, social, economical and literary issues.
The city is glad to honour a great thinker, politician without blemish and writer par excellence.