Karnataka Assembly elections 2018: Ganesh Yahji a member of a small team in Karnataka BJP, went through a wave of anxiety when he was handed over a sheaf of papers just a few minutes before Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage in Karnataka’s Santhemarahalli to address a rally. Yahji was to simultaneously translate PM’s speech. Already nervous, he quickly flipped through 12 pages with highlights of the prime minister’s speech. As PM walked up to the microphone, there was no time and he just had to listen to every word and translate it to Kannada for the audience. What added more to his anxiety – it was Modi’s first speech in Karnataka.
But the moment the speech began, Yahji was confident. The Indian Express quoted him as saying, “I just thought to myself, I have done this many times. Translating was never the problem, I just had to make sure I put the same emotion into the speech as Modiji.” He later realised that he still had the papers in his hand, but he never used them during the speech. Also, according to him, the papers did not match to what PM Modi was saying, so he found that it was better to listen and translate.
Yahji is among a small team of the Karnataka BJP that was formed over the last few days. His next assignment with Modi is over the weekend.
The first time he translated a politician’s speech was in 1993. It was for Farooq Abdullah who was in Karnataka for a meeting with local leaders. He was never trained nor did he formally learn Hindi. He picked up the language from the Hindi movies that were available.
The party had narrowed the list down to six people. State BJP general secretary N Ravikumar said the translators need not only have good command over Hindi and Kannada but understand politics as well. And therefore, certain party members were picked for certain regions. While Yahji covers southern Karnataka, Union Minister Ananth Kumar translates Modi’s speeches in Bengaluru and around. Others include MP Prahlad Joshi and Manjunath and Mahesh.