Voters fume over land scams

Reality check: Villagers prove BSY wrong, corruption talk not restricted to urban elite

Whether he is right or not will be known when the results are out on January 4. But one thing is obvious. Even villagers are well aware of the graft ghost that’s haunting the ruling BJP.

A reality check by this newspaper revealed that the villagers were aware of every scam that rocked the BJP government.

Residents who lost their precious agricultural land to the Bengaluru International Airport and industrial projects were fuming at scam-tainted minister Katta Subramanya Naidu and his corporator-son Katta Jagadish, when this reporter met them during a quick tour of the interior parts of Devanahalli taluk which go to the polls on December 26.

The villagers may be ignorant of the legal processes of notification and denotification of land, but not the land scams, thanks to the media which relentlessly pursued the issue for weeks.

However, it can’t be said their ire at corrupt ministers could influence the outcome of the panchayat elections.

Seething with anger

A mob attack on the Kattas wouldn’t come as a surprise if they were to visit Shyanapanhalli, Bandikodigehalli, Ramnathpura, Meesaganahalli, Boovanahalli and surrounding villages.

People seethe with anger at the very mention of their names. For, while the farmers who parted with their land for the BIA and other projects got just a few lakhs of rupees, the Kattas allegedly made crores of rupees from land deals in Devanahalli. The farmers also suspect the involvement of Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani in the scam.

The corruption charges against Yeddyurappa and his ministers have made campaigning against the BJP easier for the Congress and the JD(S) in Devanahalli, represented by Venkataswamy of the Congress in the Legislative Assembly.

Beerappa B M, the JD(S) candidate for Avati ZP, said the Kattas’ efforts to acquire 12,000 acres across 29 villages for the IT and BT park have been thwarted. The villagers have filed a complaint with the Lokayukta on the issue, added his supporter Ravi Kumar.

JD(S) State president H D Kumaraswamy’s crusade against corruption in the BJP government has further boosted the prospects of his party candidates here. When it was pointed out that the Deve Gowda family too was involved in scams, the villagers defended saying Yeddyurappa had failed to prove his charges against ‘Kumaranna’.

Former gram panchayat member Chikkappayya and Chandru, a lorry owner at Avati on Nandi Hills Road, say all parties are corrupt but only the degree varies.

The Congress candidates K H Sarpabhushana in Avati ZP and V Gopal in Bidalur TP, were, however, not playing the corruption card. MLA Venkataswamy, while campaigning for his party candidates in Bettakote village, said his work in the last two-and-a half years would help them win the elections. “Despite being in the Opposition, I have been able to get 140 km of roads and 85 industrial projects sanctioned for my constituency,” he claimed.

But the unmotorable roads in his native Sadahalli and the rest of the villages, and poor public transport tell a different story in the taluk that boasts of an international airport.
The ruling BJP has not done much to strengthen its base; the Congress is struggling to consolidate its dominance while the JD(S) is hankering after its revival.

Campaign

Electioneering in the villages is yet to gather momentum. Though the harangues of the party leaders are absent, several women candidates, accompanied by their male relatives, were busy campaigning door to door.

While some are confident and articulate, many others are not. M Roopa Rajanna, BJP candidate for Kannamangala TP, was campaigning along with her husband A N Rajanna in Sadahalli. A diploma holder in Electricals and Communication, and a greenhorn in politics, Roopa was all praise for her husband, a businessman and kabaddi coach. “But for him, I wouldn’t have contested (in the election),” she says.

MLA Venkataswamy’s wife N Savitha is the Congress candidate for Kundana ZP. “I want her to be in politics because she can help serve the people. How much can I do alone?” he said.

While Savitha has studied up to first year BCom, the Congress candidate for Bettakote, TP, Ambuja Chandrashekhar, has completed 7th standard. Even Ambuja is a novice in politics. Her husband, a GP member, is campaigning for her. She follows him to meet the target of trekking 11 villages with 300 houses each.

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