In the next week or ten days, I reached Delhi. Seetharamiah was waiting at the train station by the time the train reached. I asked him, “How did you know of my arrival?”
He said, “I got it somehow. You have arrived now, have you not?”
“Why did you come?”
He answered, “To escort you.”
I said, “I was thinking of some other arrangement.”
“Let the other arrangement be kept aside. Please accept this arrangement now.”
This friendly banter went on for some time. Seetharamiah sheltered me as a guest for two to two and a half months. I raised the question of expenses a couple of times. He said, “Let all that get settled in Bangalore. I have been ordered. I have to follow it. And you have to please cooperate.”
He silenced me thus. Those were the days that Seetharamiah and I spent very happily. We used to travel together. With Kālidāsa’s Megha-sandeśa book in hand, we went to Ujjayinī [Ujjain] and visited Mahākāla devālaya and the environs of the Śiprā river. We both went to Kurukshetra and bathed at the Pāṇḍava Lake. We visited Gītā-mandira. We had a darśana of Bhagavān Śiva at Sthāneśvara [Thanesar]. We also went to the Durgā shrine nearby. On the way, we recounted several poetic references, recited the verses and enjoyed discussing their poetic nuances. Seetharamiah’s knowledge of English literature was excellent, too.
At the Legislative Council
In 1927, I was a member of the [Mysore] Legislative Council. Those were the early days of the Dewanship of Sir Mirza Ismail. M N Krishna Rao was the Finance Minister then. At that time, in one of my speeches, I raised objections, alleging that the management of the treasury of the Mysore State was far from satisfactory. I said that the government was spending a lot of money but it lacked an adequate administrative audit system that examines the expense immediately and puts a stop to unwanted expenditure.
While I was speaking, Krishna Rao’s face assumed a serious mode. As soon as I sat down, he stood up and said: “It appears this member has no idea of reality. In the government’s present system, there are sufficient control measures to keep the expenses under check and for investigating them.” I did not react, for I believed Krishna Rao’s words to be absolutely honest.
That evening, an envelope reached the place where I was staying, from the minister’s office. It contained many hukums and orders issued by the government regarding financial expenditure. I read all of them and I was impressed. The next day, after the Council met, I greeted Krishna Rao and asked him, “What is the guarantee that the work is going on in accordance with those orders?” He replied, “That is a constitutional matter. The government can consider it.”
Estimation of Worth
That afternoon, during the lunch break after the Council session, Sri H C Dasappa came to me and said, “Of all the people, why did you have to raise objections against that brāhmaṇa?”
I asked, “Why are you so kind to that particular brāhmaṇa?”
Dasappa replied, “He is the only real brāhmaṇa I have met. Hence, my reverence for him; don’t trouble him!”
This is an illustration that competence and integrity earn respect on their own.
The Position of Dewan
In 1932, when Mirza saheb went to London to attend the Round Table Conference, M N Krishna Rao was appointed the acting Dewan. This was only for a few months. During this time, when I was going for a walk one morning, Krishna Rao was walking toward me. I greeted him.
Krishna Rao exclaimed, “Hello, it’s been a long time since I saw you!”
I replied, “You are under work pressure now. If I come to meet you, your time will be wasted and you may be inconvenienced!”
“Why do you think so?”
“Councillor’s work and Dewan’s responsibilities – both are put together. The load may have gone up,” I said.
“I don’t see any such thing!”
“You may have had to go on circuit.”
I said, “Well, to meet people to consider their petitions and enquire about their hardships.”
“Should I travel to enquire? Is it not enough to solve those that come here?”
I asked, “Won’t the daily load double then?”
Krishna Rao replied, “Our government was not formed today. It has a foundation of a hundred years. Rules and regulations have naturally evolved. There are no defects in that part. To implement those laws, there are responsible officers who earn one thousand to one thousand five hundred rupees. If they don’t do their work, there is nothing the government can do. If they do, there is not much work for the government. A difficult question might crop up once in a month or once in two months. That is the only work for the minister. Our main job is to make sure that various officers of the government are doing their job and are following rules and regulations.”
He gave this kind of elaboration. It was natural for him to feel that the minister’s work was simple. I can think of three reasons for this:
He was experienced in managing all departments. He started his career in the government’s Finance Department. Being directly or indirectly related to the Finance Department, every government department comes to the attention of the Treasurer. This may have given the idea to Krishna Rao that the government’s work is not difficult.
Krishna Rao’s intelligence was naturally sharp. He would quickly and comprehensively grasp the depth, extent, and essence of any thought that came to his mind. His natural way of thinking was extremely methodical. What was difficult for others was effortless for him.
Above all was his honesty. He would completely listen to his conscience and not pay attention to any other urge or advice. He would not give heed to any scheme, trick, cunning, or complex plans. His thoughts were always straightforward; his mind travelled in a straight line.
Krishna Rao was faithful to his duty and work. He remained unfazed by people’s bouquets or brickbats.