Nijalingappa’s house in Chitradurga is around 80 years old and almost dilapidated
Nijalingappa’s house in Chitradurga is around 80 years old and almost dilapidated

Nijalingappa’s will poses hurdle for conversion of house into museum

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A will written by S Nijalingappa (1902-2000), the fourth chief minister of Karnataka and national Congress president in 1968, has put his family into a fix.

The BS Yediyurappa government is willing to turn his old house in Chitradurga into a museum and even allotted Rs 5 crore for the purpose. But according to the will, the owner of the 100X100 sq ft plot cannot sell it easily. The family members are now in a fix, as the Chitradurga deputy commissioner has sought a probate and succession certificate from the court after around 10 months of silence.

Nijalingappa had nine children, including three sons and six daughters. Professor Umakanth, the oldest son, is 92 and unmarried. Another son, Rajshekhar, passed away childless.

The third son, Professor Kiran Shankar, has a son, K Vinay. The latter works and lives in the USA, said Mohan Kondajji, member of the legislative council and close associate of Professor Kiran Shankar. S Nijalingappa’s will has become an issue for Professor Kiran Shankar, who was the chief architect of Vikasa Soudha during SM Krishna’s CM tenure and wants the house to turn into a government museum.

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A tricky clause

The will mentions, “After the demise of all the aforesaid sons, my son Kiran Shankar’s son, Ch Vinay, shall become the absolute owner of the Schedule A properties with full rights and domain as owner.” The section “After the demise of all the aforesaid sons” has become an issue in the sale of the property to the government.

It is almost 22 years since Nijalingappa’s death. The house is around 80 years old and almost dilapidated. In 2021, former Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa announced that the house would be turned into a museum. Also, the state budget allotted Rs 5 crore for the property’s purchase and transformation into a museum. The amount has reportedly been credited to the DC’s account.

However, the project is now stuck, as the Chitradurga DC is not keen on taking further steps. It has been more than 10 months since the money was released. But the DC did not check the legalities involved and sat on the files, Kiran Shankar’s family sources alleged.

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Family alleges inaction

“Because of this condition (in the will), I explained to the DC that I will transfer the property to my son’s name and the government could purchase from him,” Professor Kiran Shankar wrote in a letter to the government. In May 2022, Kiran Shankar’s son Vinay came to Chitradurga from the USA on 20 days’ leave.

However, nothing was allegedly done. “My son came from the USA and was here for 20 days, during which DC could have easily bought the property. She did nothing,” Kiran Shankar alleged in the letter to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai. “We (would) certainly like to avoid selling the property in the open market even though we (can) get more money,” the letter read.

Kondajji, who is also a member of the Nijalingappa Trust, has even met the chief secretary and secretary to the Kannada and Culture department to discuss further action on the government’s decision.

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“No dispute”

However, the DC is yet to take any action. After the complaint to the chief minister, DC Kavita S Mannikeri sent Kiran Shankar a letter. “If the property owners cleared any disputes about the property and signed, then they need to get a ‘Probate and Succession Certificate’ from the court and then can sell the property to the government (sic),” the letter read, said family sources.

When asked whether they were not aware of the will before making a deal with the government, a family member claimed that the DC can go ahead with the project because nobody in the family will dispute the “ownership.” Except for Kiran Shankar, no other sons have children. Vinay is the sole owner of the property, as it has already been transferred to him. So, there is no question of “demise of the sons” of Nijalingappa. The DC can even seek legal assistance regarding this, the source said.

The family is miffed about the DC wasting time unnecessarily and Vinay’s fruitless trip from the USA. “She could have made these points when the government announced the museum,” the source argued.

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About Nijalingappa

S Nijalingappa was a freedom fighter with Gandhian principles. He lived a simple, clean life and believed in political ethics. The Lingayat leader was the first president of Mysore Congress and elected to the first Lok Sabha as the MP from Chitradurga constituency.

Nijalingappa was the first CM of the united Karnataka from 1956 to 1958, and again, from 1962 to 1968. He is called the “maker of modern Karnataka.”

He also became the Congress national president in 1969, expelling Indira Gandhi from the party for violating party discipline. It resulted in a split in the party.

After retiring from politics, Nijalingappa lived in his Chitradurga house till his last breath in August 2000. He was 97.

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