Hubballi: The little town of Ilkal in Bagalkot district may have gained fame from its traditional sarees and notoriety from its granite lobby over the last two decades, but its City Municipal Council vice-president, Mahantesh Hanumanal remains unaffected by the growing money power of its people and continues to lead a simple life, selling vegetables on the streets to make a living.
The 43- year- old worked as an ordinary labourer in quarrying before the granite industry boom of a couple of decades ago. The paltry wages of the workers inspired him to form an organisation to help the slumdwellers and he plunged into various movements to give the downtrodden a better deal. But his poverty-stricken parents threw him out of their home for not finding a job to run the family. Some time later, he began to sell vegetables to earn a living.
But his social work made him popular and he was elected councillor, contesting as an independent. He soon rose to become municipal vice-president. While he arrives at the municipality office at 9.30 am every day to dispose of files and applications for widow and old age pensions, Ashraya houses, and loans under various government schemes, he returns to selling vegetables at 4.30 pm. His wife and three children help him out at the vegetable retail outlet he has set up outside his little hut.
And the people of the area have given him a handcart to help him carry the vegetables from the wholesale market to his own little outlet.
An ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he says his motto is only to serve people. “I like to serve the poor and working class as I have seen their agony while working in the granite industry where I got Rs 15 as my daily wage during the nineties,” he adds.
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