K.S. Puttannaiah, farmer politician from Karnataka, dies at 68
K.S. Puttannaiah, farmer leader, died while watching a Kabbadi tournament in Mandya district in Bengaluru
Bengaluru: Every time K.S. Puttannaiah, the 68-year-old legislator from Melukote, rose to speak in the Karnataka legislative assembly, other legislators gave him an uninterrupted audience—a rare courtesy extended to a a farmer leader who represented a little known Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha (SKP).
Known for his vast knowledge in farming, the history of the Cauvery river water dispute and farmer issues in the state, Puttannaiah, with his witty oration and pointed rebuttals, always managed to get vast amounts of time to put forward his views in the legislature.
The farmer leader died on Sunday while watching a Kabbadi tournament in Mandya district, about 100km from Bengaluru.
“The farmer movement has lost a tall leader,” Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said about Puttannaiah, who the former has known for at least two decades now.
Former Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yeddyurappa said that Puttannaiah had become the voice of the farmer and their issues inside the legislature.
During his talks in the legislature, Puttannaiah would fondly remember late Tamil Nadu chief minister J.Jayalalithaa and refer to her sometimes as “namma magale” (our state’s daughter), who is from the region and later left for the neighbouring state. Puttannaiah had often volunteered to meet with the Tamil Nadu government to find a solution to the 150-year-old Cauvery river water dispute. The farmer leader always wore the signature green scarf of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a powerful farmer lobby group.
Puttanniah had successfully contested on a SKP ticket from Melukote in Mandya, where he managed to get almost 50% of the total votes polled in the constituency in 2013, beating the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate.
Puttannaiah had first been elected from Pandavapura constituency in 1994, post which he lost three consecutive elections, until he was re-elected in 2013.
Farmer leaders said that he was one of the few who had transcended into politics with his activism. SKP, which traces its origins to Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a powerful lobby group in the 1980s, merged with psephologist Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj India in March last year. He was declared as Swaraj India’s first legislator in Karnataka post the merger.
Puttannaiah will be cremated in Kyathanahalli in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya on Monday.
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