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Karnataka CPM leader Maruti Manpade dies of COVID-19, kin struggle to bring body home

By Express News Service

KALABURAGI: Senior CPM leader Maruti Manpade, who was a key voice of farmers and labourers in Karnataka, especially in Kalaburagi district, died of COVID-19 and pneumonia in a private hospital in Solapur in Maharashtra on Tuesday morning. He was 67.

During his lifetime, Manpade agitated for the welfare of farmers and the labour class, but his family members are now struggling to bring his body to their native Leganti to perform the final rites. Sunil Manpade, the son of the deceased, told The New Indian Express over phone from Solapur that the government authorities of Solapur are insisting that the family members bring a letter from the Kalaburagi district administration authorizing them to take the body to Kalaburagi. Unless the letter is given to them, the body would not be allowed to be taken to Kalaburagi, Sunil said.

He said CPI (M) activists of Kalaburagi were contacting the authorities, but so far the district administration has not given a letter. If the letter is not provided, the last rites would be performed at Solapur itself with the cooperation of CPI (M) activists there and relatives, Sunil said.  

Officials said on condition of anonymity that the district administration and health department would help the family members in performing the final rites following COVID-19 norms if the body was brought to Kalaburagi on their own. It would not be possible to give a letter to the Maharashtra government to hand over the body. So far, the Kalaburagi district administration has not given such a letter to anybody, the sources said.

Manpade who was the state unit vice-president of Karnataka Prantya Sangha at the time of his death was admitted to ESIC hospital a fortnight back due to COVID-19. Later, he was shifted to a private hospital at Solapur where he died on Tuesday morning, family sources said. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, Manpade did not rest. He used to gather some activists and stage demonstrations, maintaining social distancing, to express the sorrows and suffering of the people.

Based in Kalaburagi for a long time, Manpade was more concerned about the growers of red gram, black gram and green gram – the crops that were extensively grown in the district. He often criticised the Union government’s irrational import policies that, he felt, were the direct and major reason for the suffering of the growers.

He strongly opposed the duty-free import of pulses in large quantities from the big players, especially the Adani Group, which had, he held, caused the fall of prices of domestically grown pulses. He had been demanding at least 30% duty on the imports of pulses. Manpade staged agitations in Bengaluru many times for the cause of the farmers of the state.

Manpade had also tried his luck in electoral politics by contesting once from the Bidar Lok Sabha constituency as a candidate of the JD(S) and CPI(M) coalition and thrice from Kamalapur and Gulbarga Rural constituencies, but could not win.

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