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This election season in Karnataka, popular Kannada actor Kishore champions farmers’ causes

By Maitreyee Boruah
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    Bengaluru, March 27: Popular Kannada actor Kishore, known for his acting chops, prefers to be addressed as a farmer-actor because like acting, farming too is close to his heart. If on the one hand, Kannada film fans and critics can't stop raving about his roles in films like Ulidavaru Kandante, in the Tamil film industry, Kishore is the "big baddie" from movies like Rajinikanth-starrer Kabali. However, on Sunday morning when OneIndia caught up with the critically-acclaimed actor, who was a former teacher in a Bengaluru college and a fashion designer, he spoke more passionately about farmers' plight and agrarian crisis in the state than his movies.

    "I am a farmer. I have agricultural land in Bannerghatta, Bengaluru and near Sagar in the Western Ghats. I work in my farm land where I till the soil and grow crops," Kishore said on the sidelines of a lecture delivered by Swaraj India party leader and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan at a Bengaluru auditorium.

    actor kishore

    When asked what brought him to the event, Kishore said Swaraj India party works closely with the farmers and he himself is one of them. "I have come here as a farmer, and I am interested to know how the farmers of Karnataka and the rest of the country can make agriculture a sustainable occupation."

    Kishore, who works with small farmers and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a farmer's movement, blamed "the system" for turning agriculture unsustainable for farmers. The 43-year-old actor alleged that all political parties want to keep farmers and villagers poor as it serves their vested interests.

    "Karnataka agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda says labour is not available for agriculture. I want to ask who is responsible for it. Farming has become unfeasible and thus a large portion of village people are leaving their homes for cities to work as daily wage earners. Our villages are fast turning into no man's land. All political parties, be it the Congress or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), they work for the big corporates. They are capitalists and thus want to promote more machines and fertilisers and ignore the interest of farmers who give their lives to feed the nation," he said.

    Regarding the suicide of around 3,700 farmers in Karnataka under the current Congress regime, Kishore said politicians and policymakers have failed to understand that problems differ from place to place. "Farming is a local issue, it needs a local solution. They want to impose one solution on all, which is further harming agriculture and its practitioners."

    Despite farmers' groups coming together to raise their voices against the government, the actor-farmer says Karnataka is unlikely to see a similar protest like the one seen in Mumbai recently.

    "It was a powerful movement. More than 30,000 farmers from villages of Maharashtra came to Mumbai to demand farm loan waiver, minimum support price and land rights for tribals, among others. Here in Karnataka, things are different. Political parties have always ignored farmers. They talk about agriculture and farming only during the elections. For them, farmers are just the vote bank," Kishore said.

    The actor, who brilliantly essayed the role of notorious forest brigand Veerappan in the film, Attahasa, said that although he strongly feels about farmers and their causes, he does not nurture any political ambition. "No, I will not join politics. Yes, a lot of Kannada actors and actresses have joined politics. Some are sincere towards their work, but for others, politics is just another profession," he said.

    Praising his colleague from the film industry, Upendra, who last year floated his own political party, Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha, however, later had to leave the party after internal problems cropped up, Kishore said sincere and honest politicians are the need of the hour.

    "Upendra is a committed man with a lot of ideas. He has always raised social and political issues through his films too. I am hopeful he will bring change," smiled Kishore.

    Kishore, whose upcoming movies include Vada Chennai (a Tamil film based on the underworld of Chennai), added that he was confident that both Tamil superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, who have recently joined politics, would work for the greater good of society.

    Before signing off, Kishore said that he hopes the upcoming elections in Karnataka would bring some changes in the lives of the poor and harassed farmers of the state.

    Karnataka Assembly Election dates
    Date of notification April 17
    Last date to file nominations April 24
    Last date to withdraw nominations April 27
    Date of polling May 12
    Date of counting May 15

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