Kakani: Leader of iron will

Kakani: Leader of iron will

In the fast-changing situation in the State which points out to inevitable bifurcation or de-merger, as some prefer to call it, a realistic approach...

In the fast-changing situation in the State which points out to inevitable bifurcation or de-merger, as some prefer to call it, a realistic approach seems to be the dire need of the hour. Kakani Venkata Rathnam, known for his rustic simplicity and deep concern for the common people, like Kamaraj of our neighbouring Tamil Nadu, laid down his life fighting till his last breadth for the cause he espoused in all sincerity and vehemence at his command. His passing away at the crucial stage was a great loss to the State and helped Indira Gandhi to play ducks and drakes with the affairs of the State by dividing it into six zones and giving it constitutional validity when a mere bifurcation would have ended the impasse. That was all past history and one feels sad that an excellent opportunity was lost throwing us back to square one. History will never forgive us if we fail to give due place to those who had the vision instinctively in the larger interests and we will be doomed to continue paying very heavy price for our failure to realize it in time. In 1979 the then chief minister Dr M Channa Reddy changed the name of Bandar Road to Kakani Road on the Christmas Day which also happened to be the death anniversary of Kakani. It was a very small gesture for his memory and it was widely welcomed by the citizens. It is not known what had happened subsequently, by whom and at whose insistence, but quietly it had been changed to Mahatma Gandhi Road and it is still in use now. There is an important area in the city named after him as Gandhi Nagar and there is no need to change a name already in use in Kakani's name.
Another important road, Eluru Road, once a great national highway known as Grand Trunk Road, was renamed as Karl Marx Road when Communists were in power in the Municipal Corporation. For the common people who are accustomed to it as Eluru Road, the change is a sort of tongue twister and a large number of people use only the same old name as only in postal and other addresses K M Road is used. It happened in Vijayawada long ago and its significance is all the more important in the present context. One student, Premnath, got admission into the evening college which was open only to bonafide employees by producing an employment certificate from a private company. He came out with his degree and after some time his conscience pricked him and he approached the principal, C V Gururaju, and confessed his false representation and sought punishment due to him. He said: "For the past few days this thought has been pricking my conscience that I have cheated my teachers. I have learnt from pious men that a person who cheats his own gurus will have to suffer in life unless pardoned by them. I have been spending sleepless nights not knowing what to do. So I have come to confess and take whatever punishment you give me," he said in a choked voice. The Principal was so much moved by this rare occurrence that he patted him and asked him never to do such a thing again and complimented him for his boldness and integrity. "I am convinced about his sincere atonement and it is a rare occasion in these days of deep erosion of moral values," he said. In this connection, one is reminded of another instance which took place long before that. One gentleman from Vijayawada, Bommaganti Sobhanadri, the only male teacher in the local Bishop Azaraiah Girls High School, was respected by everybody for his piety and abilities. Most of his relatives, natives of Nizam State, lured him, securing for him a Mulki certificate which could be got then for a price. It was such a common thing in those days when there were many vacancies for teachers there and very few qualified persons for them. After working there for some time, his conscience pricked him and he wrote to then Chief Minister Burgula Ramakrishna Rao admitting what he had done to get a job there in a school and enclosed his resignation letter. On seeing it, the CM sent for him and talked to him and was very much impressed by the young man's uprightness and told him that while it is quite human to err, it was his confession of the guilt which marks him from the rest. It is such people, although dwindling in number, who are the backbone of any good administration, he said, and at once condoned him for lack of bonafide certificate. He continued in service and retired with great appreciation from the government for his uprightness. Such persons are becoming a vanishing tribe and that is the tragedy of our public life.
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