Kengel Hanumanthaiah – The Political Powerhouse

kengal hanumanthaiah, chief minister of Karnataka

Kengel Hanumanthaiah was the second Chief Minister of Mysore State from 30th March 1952 to 19th August 1956. He was the main force behind the construction of the Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore.

A Short Biography

Kengel Hanumanthaiah was born on February 14, 1908, in a Vokkaliga family (Vokkaligas are one of the most prominent communities in Karnataka). He was born in a small village called Lakkappanahalli. Kengel Hanumanthaiah was named after the village deity, Kengel Hanumanthaiah. This was the presiding deity of the village temple, dedicated to Shri Hanuman.

Kengel Hanumanthaiah graduated from Poona Law College in 1930 and he served as the secretary of the Students Union and the Karnataka Sangha at his college. He joined the Bar Council, but under the influence of Dr. P. Tandon, who was the President of the Indian National Congress, he gave up his practice and joined in the Freedom Movement.

His Political Life

Kengel Hanumanthaiah was elected as the Chief Minister of Mysore Sate in 1952. It was during this period that the first Five Year Plan was launched by Jawaharlal Nehru. The Five Year Plan meant that the state leaders had to fit their agenda within the broad scope of National Development.

This necessarily meant that they had to compromise on their vision for their own state on some occasions. It is said that Hanumanthaiah clashed with Nehru many times on this issue. However his government achieved the National Economic Growth target at a 15% lower outlay. His period of governance is still held in high esteem by the political historians of Karnataka.

The Vidhana Soudha, His Dream Structure

vidhana-soudhaKengel Hanumanthaiah was a simple man who did not indulge in any extravagant ideas in personal or political life. But he did have one extraordinary dream, and he wanted to house the state legislature in a building of unique construction that would showcase many of India’s rich architectural styles, yet seamlessly blend them in one smooth flow.

He explained that the motivation for this was an incident that occurred when a Russian delegation once visited Bangalore. He showed them around the city and they kept asking him why most of the prominent buildings were European in style, and whether his country did not have its own unique style. This motivated him to put up a building that would display indigenous architectural styles, especially, South India’s architectural heritage.

The Vidhana Soudha now houses the State legislature, the secretariat and many other government offices. It is a unique and beautiful building which is considered to be the largest legislative building in India.

Kengel Hanumanthaiah is one of the most admired and respected Chief Ministers of the state of Karnataka, and during his recent birth centenary on February 14, 2008, a biography, Vidhana Soudha Shilpi Kengal Hanumanthaiah, written by B.H. Suresh, was released as a tribute to the man and his achievements.

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