Once while I was addressing a Public Rally in Dakshina Kannada District, a person wearing a half pant came on stage and said, "I heard your speech. But I have only five paise. Will you accept it" he asked. "Why not? Please give it me," I said accepting the coin. "This five paise are very valuable to me. Even if Tata's and Birla's were to give me 5 crores, this 5 paise will be more valuable", I said over the mike. People clapped and whistled. Then as I turned towards the person to ask his name, he could not be seen. I asked the audience to locate him. I announced over the mike requesting him to come back on to the Stage. Strangely, he could not been seen. Despite the incident happening in front a crowd, he could not be traced. It was as if he had vanished in to thin air. Then an elderly gentleman in the crowd announced-
"He will never come back"
"But why?" I asked.
You know who he is?.
He is none other than Lord Shiva," he said.
I did not believe him. Even now I don't believe he was Lord Shiva. But after that incident, funds started pouring in. The temple work also took place in full swing. In just 13 months, the temple was ready. We initially decided to have the inauguration on February 8, 1991 but the Temple was ready well before that.
Funds started flowing in even after Temple was inaugurated. There was a Hall named after Koragappa Memorial Hall beside the Temple. We decided to dismantle it and build a Marriage Hall. A Industrialist from Bengaluru, J P Narayanaswamy laid the Foundation stone. I was present in the programme. I got married in the old hall and all my children got married in the new hall.
In just 13 months, the Temple was renovated. We started a college in the name of Gokarnanatha. At times, I wonder how it would not have been possible in the absence of some Divine force. Since my childhood I have been a principled man. I have paid for even laddus and prasadam at Temples. Though I am a Billawa, I have not taken the membership of Billawa Association. I am not even a member of the Administrative body of the College and the Temple.
REFLECTION Sitting alone at night, now I think how did all these things happen? How I could become Finance Minister of the country, being born to a poor family. Till date, nobody has dared to bribe me. I lived on biscuits and water during my visits to different parts of the country as a Minister. People and those in power were on their toes to arrange sumptuous food for me. But I did not even look at them. I used to send back the gifts and fruits sent by Tatas, Birlas and Ambani's from the gate itself. This is the reason I am fearless and this has come from my honesty and dedication. My conscious remains unscathed and uncompromised. And this brings greatest satisfaction to me when I look back. I firmly believe that this is the way every politician should be.
TEMPLE INAUGURATION As the dream project of renovation of the Temple was completed, we decided to get it inaugurated by Rajiv Gandhi. Some people tried to stop Rajiv from coming for inauguration. They spread false stories like temple renovation was done from donations received from people who had earned money illegally. But Rajiv Gandhi had immense faith in me. He knew me too well to believe these falsehoods. He informed me about the efforts being made to stop him from coming to Kudroli.
"We have collected funds from our Community people," I told him. "I will come, no matter what others say," he said. Accordingly, he inaugurated the Temple in a grand function just a few days ahead of 1991 elections.
The same year, we installed idols of 'Nava Durgeyaru' (Nine Durga) at the new Wedding Hall built next to the Temple. We built another Auditorium. Ground floor has been provided with air-conditioning facility. This building has 92 pillars. All this work was completed in a record eight months. Entire open space of the temple is covered with Marble flooring.
We built the marriage halls to ensure a regular flow of income for the Committee to run the Temple. The then Chief Minister Dharam Singh inaugurated Marriage Halls. We got all the walls painted with pictures of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. A glass house was built inside the Temple for marriages. We built an open air theatre with the financial support from Mumbai based businessman Suresh Poojary. The Temple got a new look with these facilities.
Architects and Sculptors from different parts of the country including Tanjavur had come for Temple construction work. They worked day and night. People who see the Temple are amazed at the attention to details and the magnificence. Every piece of work exudes fine craftsmanship. The ambience and cleanliness of the temple premises is unmatched. The temple is a live testimony to the proverb "where there is a will there is a way". We can do wonders if we have a strong will to do something without selfish motives. In Ramayana, there is a reference of construction of a long bridge (Rama Setu) across the sea to reach Sri Lanka. There were no engineers then. People's devotion towards Lord Rama made them accomplish that impossible task.
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