Congress faces test in Reddy-made bastion

Congress faces test in Reddy-made bastion

A sniffer dog checks a tent at Halkandi Veerabhadreshwar Math on the outskirts of Bellary on Saturday. Congressmen participating in the padayatra will stay here and set off for Bellary on August 9. DH photo/ Anand BakshiIt is going to be a tense moment for both  padayatris and the police.
The Congress’ walkathon on this stretch has assumed significance not only because it will be one of the longest walks in a day in the last two weeks, but also pass through the controversial Obulapuram village where the Reddys have their mines on the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka boundary.

Obulapuram, a tiny village coming under the Rayadurga Assembly constituency of Andhra Pradesh, is represented by Congress MLA Ramachandra Reddy, who is also said to be a close associate of the Reddys. However, there seems to be little support from partymen here for the padayatra.

Unlike in other places en route the padayatra, there is hardly any party flag or banner or flexes of leaders not only at Obulapuram but also on the entire 12 km stretch that passes through Andhra Pradesh. Obulapuram and D Hirehal are two adjacent villages and the padayatris will be walking this stretch of 12 km.

On Saturday night,  Congressmen camped at Rampura in Chitradurga district. They are yet to trek 36 km to reach Bellary, their destination.

In the entire Obulapuram village, there was only one flex  depicting photos of Union minister S M Krishna and R V Devaraj, the former Chikpet MLA welcoming the “nadarakshana nadige.” Similar was the scene at D Hirehal, a small town in the Rayadurga constituency.

The Andhra Pradesh and the Karnataka police have beefed up security on the stretch passing through Andhra to prevent any untoward incident during the padayatra. Many police jeeps were seen making trips between Obulapuram and Bellary City.

“We are in touch with the AP police to ensure foolproof security. A check-post has been set up at Rampura, where the 15th day padayatra will commence. We are scanning all private vehicles entering Bellary, besides video recording the traffic movement,” Bellary SP M N Nagaraj said.

The Congressmen on padayatra have no plans to halt their walk anywhere in the villages passing through Andhra. No local function has been organised. The leaders are scheduled to walk this stretch in one go. Usually, the leaders take a break every four to five km to address public gatherings. Interestingly, a majority of Obulapuram residents speak Kannada.

It is at Thammenahalli, which is about five km from Obulapuram, that the padayatra will enter Bellary district. The day’s padayatra is scheduled to end at Halkundi, 7 km from Bellary city. Congress leaders and party workers will stay at the Halkundi Veebhadreshwara Mutt off the Bangalore-Bellary road.

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