Who is Bangarappa?

"Who is Bangarappa? I have not seen him," said Indira Gandhi when I proposed S Bangarappa's name for KPCC President's post to replace Mr Devaraj Urs. It was before the 1980 elections. Bangarappa was in Socialist Party. Urs brought him to Congress and made him Minister in his Cabinet. After Devraj Urs revolted against Indira Gandhi , Indira Gandhi told me "I will make you KPCC President". I politely refused the offer.

"I will make you CM after that," she said. "I don't know how to make money for running the Party affairs. Moreover, I don't want that Post. Sorry madam" I humbly replied. "Then suggest some suitable names," she asked. I suggested Bangarappa's name only to be asked the above question. "He is a Minister in Urs Cabinet. You might've seen him.""Then, bring him," Mrs Gandhi said.

Since there was Janata Party Government at the Centre, many spies were deployed to keep tab on Indira Gandhi's activities and her visitors. So she had called me in the night. Even during the night, I used to enter Indiraji's house from the back door. I secretly took Bangarappa to Delhi, made him stay in a hotel. Later at night, I took him to Indira Gandhi's house. She looked at Bangarappa for a while and said: 'Okay, you can go now". "Can we trust him?", She asked me, after Bangarappa left the room. "Yes". I said.

This is how Bangarappa became KPCC President.

Before 1980 elections, Indira Gandhi appointed Gundu Rao as State Election Committee Chairman. It came as a shocker to Bangarappa as he was nursing the ambition of becoming Chief Minister. He thought Gundu Rao will be made Chief Minister and he stands no chance. He expressed his feelings to me. He also criticized Indira Gandhi in a very bad language. Later he visited me at my residence in Delhi and threatened to leave Congress party. I told him that I will arrange a meeting with Indira Gandhi and he can get his doubts cleared. He did not agree. I forcibly took him to Indira Gandhi. But I was taken aback after seeing Bangarappa's rude behaviour. At one point of time, he even went to the extent of hitting Indira Gandhi. I immediately grabbed him and pulled him back. Indira Gandhi was quivering with anger. "What happened to you? Are you not in your senses? Get out", I shouted at Bangarappa. When I turned to her, Indira Gandhi was still in a state of shock. "It shouldn't have happened. Even my children have not behaved like this with me", she said. "I will set things right," I assured before taking leave of her. After coming out, I took Bangarappa to task again. "Forget about kids, even criminals will not behave like this. Is this the way you behave with a person who was the Prime Minister of our country? Power hunger has blinded you', I retorted.

Later, Mid-term election to Lok Sabha was announced. Candidates were selected. But Bangarappa remained aloof. Mr Srinivas Prasad from Chamarajanagar and Devaraya Nayak of Uttara Kannada were his candidates and I impressed upon Indira Gandhi to ensure that these two get tickets. Even then, Bangarappa did not show any interest in campaign. "This is not Assembly election. You have to campaign for the party," I told him. Indira Gandhi was to come to Bengaluru for campaign and Bangarappa again refused to join her despite being the KPCC President. It was only after I pursued, he agreed to join. Indira Gandhi's campaign in the 1980 Mid-term poll was a huge success and the party returned to power by winning 354 seats. I was also re-elected from Mangaluru Lok Sabha Constituency.

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