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A journey to reckon

Before he took the plunge, Moily practiced law. High on histrionics, he once dangled a bottle with a human arm in it: his way of demonstrating the trauma of the landless, reports Kumkum Chadha.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2009 01:13 IST
Kumkum Chadha

Like film actor Govinda, law minister Dr Moodabidri Veerappa Moily is haunted by his mother, Poovamma. Mumbai is abuzz with unconfirmed reports about Govinda’s obsession with his dead mother and how he drinks tea with her daily. There are two cups placed and while Govinda actually sips his tea, his mother shares the cup with him in his imagination.

Thankfully Moily is not in Govinda’s league. His obsession is confined to her shadow watching him in the wee hours of the morning. That is when the politician Moily turns into a writer and works on his books. Ironically, he has done one on worship of hero’s spirits, apart from a five volume epic poem Sri Ramayana Mahanv-eshanam. It was Moily’s wife, Malathi, who pushed him to do another one on Draupadi.

Moily and Malathi go back 60 years. No it was not a child marriage. They were cousins and the families were against the match. Moily’s mother threatened suicide if the two married. During his engagement to a girl from Katpadi in Mangalore, Malathi’s family appeared with stacks of love letters written by Moily. Malathi in; Katpadi girl out. Now, Moily writes sonnets, which Malathi reads.

Moily’s political career has been a mixed bag. He was Karnataka’s Chief Minister in 1992. Nationally, he chaired the Second Administrative Reform Commission. Politically he made his debut in Lok Sabha this year when he won from Chikballapur in Karnataka.

Controversy dogged him in the state. In 1984, Moily was accused by an independent legislator, C. Byre Gowda, offering him Rs 2 lakh to defect to Congress (I). Gowda taped the conversation and the Moily tapes scandal hit headlines. Moily was also named in a CBI chargesheet in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bribery case.

When P.V Narasimha Rao’s government was facing a no-confidence motion in 1993, money was offered to JMM MPs to help the government.

“Both times, Moily was,” says M.Raghupathy, Karnataka’s former minister, “in the eye of the storm but escaped unscathed.” More recently, he was removed as Congress media head because he had shot off his mouth. Moily attacked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, when the Congress was trying to woo him as an ally.

Before he took the plunge, Moily practiced law. High on histrionics, he once dangled a bottle with a human arm in it: his way of demonstrating the trauma of the landless. There is a personal footprint to this: Moily’s mother was humiliated by her landlord who physically pushed her out of the house. She often doubled up as a domestic worker and a coolie. Once Moily prospered, he bought back the house his mother was dispossessed of. Like he did the gold chain she had pawned.

Moily’s mantra: never quit. He learnt this when he played cricket in school. The rule of thumb: Don’t score and don’t quit”. For three years that he played he was not bowled out. His score: One run….