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Poll bound government ups its ante with Kempegowda jayanti

  • The Congress adds Kempegowda jayanti to the list of 25 other jayantis
  • Organising Kempegowda jayanti is a major political move, as the government gets to appease the dominant Vokkaliga community
  • To mark the celebrations, CM Siddaramaiah announced the renaming of Bengaluru university, and erection of Kempegowda’s statue in front of the International Airport.
  • The government has already named Bengaluru International Airport, Majestic bus station, and a metro station after Kempegowda
  • Earlier, the government wanted to celebrate Kempegowda jayanti on April 17. The date was however cancelled following confusion over Kempegowda’s birth
  • Kempegowda jayanti to be celebrated every year on June 27. The government has not announced a holiday to mark the jayanti
Poll bound government ups its ante with Kempegowda jayanti
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With much fanfare, the State government celebrated the first Nadaprabhu Kempegowda jayanti in Vidhana Soudha on Tuesday. This is the latest of the 13 jayantis introduced by the Congress government ever since it came to power four years ago. Including Kempegowda jayanti, the Kannada and Culture department is now responsible for celebrating 26 jayantis every year! 

Solely keeping elections in mind, the Siddaramaiah led government has tried to appease the various communities in the State by organising these jayantis. It started celebrating the Madiwala Machideva jayanti  to appease the Madiwala/dhobis community, Bhageeratha jayanti (Upparas), Ambigara Chowdaiah jayanti (fishermen community); Shivaji jayanti (Marathis), Akkamahadevi jayanti (women), Hemareddy Mallamma jayanti (Reddys), Vishwakarma jayanti (Vishwakarma community), Krishna jayanti (Gollas, Yadavas), Narayana Guru jayanti (Billava) and Tipu jayanti to appease the minorities.

The government has now turned its focus on to the Vokkaliga community, which is both numerically and politically dominant Hindu forward caste group in Karnataka. Little wonder that it has dedicated two jayantis to the community. Sensing that the Vokkaliga community would not directly connect with the Vishwamanava jayanti (which marks poet Kuvempu’s birth anniversary), the government struck upon the idea of Kempegowda jayanti, certain that it would strike a chord with the said community. The event drew prominent community leaders from all three parties, including JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda and Union Minister and BJP leader D V Sadananda Gowda. 

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is on a renaming spree, showed that he means business. He not only announced the erection of a massive statue of Kempegowda, the founder of Bengaluru, in front of the Kempegowda International Airport; he also declared that the Bangalore university would be named after Kempegowda. Siddaramaiah made these announcements after Sri Gurugunda Brahmeshwara Mutt seer Nanjavadhuta swami proposed the same at the event.

It may be recalled that the government has already renamed the Women’s University in Vijapura after Akka Mahadevi, a strong proponent of the Veerashaiva Bhakti movement. It was a calculated move to appease the Lingayat community. 

The Nanjavadutha swami also demanded that Namma Metro itself be named after Kempegowda. He also said that the photograph of Kempegowda should be put up in all government offices. Government offices already adorn Basavanna’s photographs, he noted. The government should also organise Kempegowda jayanti on the lines of Dasara celebrations, he said. Siddaramaiah said that the government would consider renaming Namma Metro. 

Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, a powerful Vokkaliga leader in the Congress, took the lead to organise the jayanti in Bengaluru. While the Kannada and Culture department spent Rs 10 lakh for the celebrations in Bengaluru, there is no clarity on the total amount spent to organise the event in the City. Sources said a large donation was made by the Vokkaligara Sangha and Shivakumar himself. 

Shivakumar also surprised the audience when he sought the blessings of Deve Gowda. Shivakumar is a sworn rival of the Gowda family.The Kannada and Culture department allocates a budget of Rs 69 lakh for each jayanti, to be spent statewide. 

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