There are hardly any greater (for a lack of better words) love stories than caste identity politics and Karnataka. A protagonist in this saga, Parameshwara Gangadharaiah, was born on this day in 1951.
Born on 6th August 1951
Ever since there have been politics in Karnataka, caste has played a major role in creating and shifting trends. Parties have been born or cursed to death because of caste, politicians have risen and called because of caste. No post and no issue here is divorced from the considerations of caste, as would be obvious to a caste society.
One man who overcame the historical moorings baggage of his caste identity was Parameshwara Gangadharaiah, assisted in due part by his father- MLC and socialist, Gangadharaiah Hebbalalu Mariyappa.
Born in Tumkur, Karnataka he was third in the pecking order of five children; a brother and three sisters. His early education was completed at the Government School in Gollahalli before he took admission at the Sri Siddhartha High School, which was established by his very own father in 1959.
After completing Pre-University College, Parameshwara was drawn towards the University of Agricultural Science in Bangalore. Apart from being a stellar student, he was a prime athlete as well- he held the record of completing a 100m race in just under 11 seconds (10.9 to be precise). Apart from track and field, he had also been a member of the National Cadet Corps.
After a brief fling as the Research Assistant at the same university, Australia came calling for a doctorate. He completed his PhD in Plant Physiology at Waite Agricultural Research Centre, the University of Adelaide.
After his return to India, he served as the Administrative Officer at Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology, before helping his father establish Sri Siddhartha Medical College, Hospital & Research Centre.
Before the inauguration of the medical college, Gangadharaiah accompanied then Education Minister S.M. Yahya to the Prime Minister's Office. It was during his third meeting with Rajiv Gandhi when the PM asked him to dip his feet in the quicksand that was politics.
It took a lot of convincing but eventually, Yahya took him to the AICC's General Secretary and had him appointed the Joint Secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
This marked the beginning of a long and illustrious career, in which Gangadharaiah served as the Leader of the House for Karnataka Legislative Council, Home Minister of Karnataka, Minister of Information & Publicity, Minister of State for Medical Education and Minister of State for Sericulture.
In 2018, HD Kumaraswamy, a Vokkaliga was chosen to be the Chief Minister of Karnataka, it was necessary for his deputy to be a non-Vokkaliga, considering how important caste is as a parameter of judging cabinets. All fingers pointed towards one man- there was no one better for the job than Parameshwara Gangadharaiah himself.
Although his tenure lasted for just over a year, as an incumbent MLA he continues to give shape to the politics of Karnataka in meaningful ways. An Ambedkarite at heart and a follower of Buddhism, Parameshwara Gangadharaiah is surely an icon and a messiah for the depressed classes in Karnataka.
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