In Gulbarga, debate on Kharge's contributions takes centre stage

Opposition nails him for poor human development indices in dist
Last Updated 02 April 2014, 20:08 IST

Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge is banking on what he claims are a legion of his contributions to the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency. But the Opposition parties, BJP and JD(S), cannot just stop disputing the claims of the minister and his followers. 

It is then, perhaps, for the first time that development has taken centre stage as an election issue in this SC-reserved constituency. For people in the constituency, it has come as a welcome change in the run-up to the elections.

The veteran Congress leader is seeking relection on the basis of his achievements vis-a-vis development of the district, having been a minister for labour, employment and railways in his five-year tenure in the Union Cabinet.

Kharge has won nine Assembly elections in a row and one poll to Parliament. The minister has been appealing to the people not to go by ‘motivated accusations’ or ‘some wave’ (read Modi wave) that is sweeping across the country. Kharge had won the last election by a not-so-comfortable margin of about 13,000 votes by defeating BJP nominee Revu Naik Belamagi. 

There is talk that Kharge is on a sticky wicket this time due to the ‘Modi wave’ or the perceived yearning for change of regime at the Centre. But, the minister is confident that his ‘extraordinary achievements’ will help him withstand the Opposition onslaught. 

Kharge claims credit for fulfilling the long-pending demand for a Railway Division Office in Gulbarga, a Fiat railway coach factory near Yadgir, expediting work on the Bidar-Gulbarga line, sanctioning the new line Wadi-Gadag connecting Hyderabad-Karnataka and Mumbai-Karnataka, besides other development works pertaining to railways. 

His key contribution, Kharge claims, is the establishment of the ESIC Medical Education Complex in Gulbarga at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore. The Congress wants the entire credit of according special status to the H-K region through Article 371(J) of the Constitution to go to Kharge.

JD(S) candidate and State DSS convener D G Sagar and the party’s district president Basavaraj Tadkal agree that there have been these development works in the last five years. But they take him to task for not doing much, despite being a minister in the State for several decades. They cite the poor human development indices of the district and the 

H-K region.

“Despite tall claims, the migration of poor people in search of livelihood has not yet stopped. School dropout rates are high and malnutrition is at its worst. There is no access to potable drinking water and better roads. Kharge should explain and we are ready for a public debate,” said Sagar.

BJP candidate Belamagi ridicules Kharge’s claims on Article 371(J) and establishment of the Central University in Gulbarga. According to him, it was the BJP government of Yeddyurappa which mounted pressure on the Centre for the constitutional status and the Central varsity. 

K B Shanappa, senior BJP MLC, claims that it was he and his party which first brought to the fore the issue of constitutional status through his private member’s bill in the Rajya Sabha. The two Congress leaders Kharge and Dharam Singh picked it up from there, he said.

(Published 02 April 2014, 20:08 IST)

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