Scanty rain overshadows byelection campaigning

Voters in Channapatna are worried over impending drought


Seeking Votes:  Congress candidate T K Yogish campaigning at Sadarahalli in Ramanagara district on Friday. DH PHOTO

The dark shade of the trees however, mask the stark reality of poverty and the threat of impending drought, looming large over the farming community, the majority of the electorate.

Campaigning has picked up in Channapatna which is witnessing a third election in less than one and half years. There is a burst of energy and enthusiasm among party workers but the farmers are more concerned about the deficit rainfall in the taluk this year and an imminent crop failure. As party leaders wind their way on their vehicles into the interiors of Channapatna, its hard to miss the vast empty tracts of ploughed but unsown fields.
Sowing should have started in June and the first sprouts by July, point out farmers in Akkur, who mainly cultivate ragi in this rain-fed region.

JD(S) star campaigner and Ramanagara MP H D Kumaraswamy was in Akkur during his campaign trail on Friday. The former chief minister has a huge following in the constituency. However, as he commenced his speech from his Ford Endeavour in support of his party candidate, M C Ashwath, many in the gathering appeared to be lost in their own world. They did give a patient hearing, but soon rushed to him with their problems.

An hour earlier, Kumaraswamy’s stop at Santhenemogenahalli, had women pouring out their grievances. It is not surprising that irrigation and development tops the poll agenda of all the parties in the constituency. Candidates are promising the moon - from an irrigation project using water from the Shimsha river to making the entire constituency hutment free.

Innovative purpose

Luring voters with money power is said to be slowing making inroads. A resident of Akkur claimed that money was distributed by workers to bystanders at 7 30 pm on Thursday.

However, the residents are afraid to consume liquor fearing it being spurious. “Last time, many fell ill after drinking liquor” recalls Nagarajaiah. However, instead of dumping the liquor distributed, some used it for an innovative purpose - as fuel in kerosene lamps!.

Congress candidate T K Yogish’s convoy bumped along muddy roads of Sadarahalli. A small meeting was arranged at the house of a gram panchayat member. Fifteen minutes and more promises, it was time for the campaign trail to move on. Nearby, students of the government school watched in glee as the convoy of vehicles pass by them oblivious of the troubles of their parents.

At downtown Channapatna, KPCC President D K Shivakumar was on padayatra under the scorching sun. He plans to invite leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah to campaign in the constituency on August 10. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will be campaigning in Channapatna for party candidate and three-time legislator from the constituency, C P Yogeeshwara.

Victory in the constituency has become a prestigious issue for all the three parties. While Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy, state unit presidents of their parties, consider the constituency as part of their home base, its make or break for Yogeeshwara and a referendum on the performance of the ruling party.

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