Cong worker dies during Bellary padayatra

Last Updated 25 July 2010, 13:40 IST

A 68-year-old Congress worker collapsed and died during the 320-km Congress' Bellary Chalo Padayatra' here on Sunday.

Chikkamariah was rushed to M S Ramaiah Hospital, where he was declared dead. He suffered a massive heart attack, sources added.

The padayatra' is to highlight "failure" of the BJP government in Karnataka on various issues, including illegal mining.

Congress on Sunday launched its campaign against two-year-old BJP government in Karnataka with its Bangalore to Bellary padayatra protesting against illegal mining and its administrative failures.

Veteran Congress leaders K Sriramulu and K H Ranganath, putting aside their old-age and ill-health, inaugurated the 320-km padayatra at the Freedom Park here in the presence of a well attended gathering of partymen.

Sriramulu, who was a minister in the late D Devaraj Urs ministry and credited with launching a battle against hotel owners for charging higher rates for food items served to customers and fixed prices for every eatables, symbolically handed over a handful of soil to KPCC President R V Deshpande urging upon the party to save "Karnataka from BJP rule".

The ceremony was in tune with Congress's campaign "walk for saving the state".
Former minister K H Ranganath handed over a sapling to opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah, who is leading the "oust BJP" agitation to take up the task for protecting resources of the state, in the backdrop of Congress stir accusing Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa government of its "failure" to check "loot of resources".

The principle opposition party, to ensure that its movement against saffron party government enjoyed the support of cross section of people and shorn of political barriers, roped in freedom fighters like H S Doreswamy, Jnanapeetha awardee U R Ananthamurthy, noted writer Baragur Ramachandrappa, B T Lalitha Naik, Prof Ravivarma Kumar and C S Dwarakanath, former chairman of Backward Classes Commission.

Doreswamy and Anantmurthy slammed the BJP rule and Sriramulu charged the government of focussing its attention towards mobilising resources to fund elections.
"The administration has gone astray. There is a need to bring it on track", Anantamurthy said.

Senior Congres leader Oscar Fernandes said "the padayatra is meant to send message to the people about misrule of the BJP government".

The Lokayukta probe had brought forward the issue of irregularity in mining and the Chief Minister himself has admitted to illegal mining in the state and demanded the government to act.

Siddaramaiah charged that government betrayed people and allowed illegal mining and illegal export of iron ore.

"Yeddyurappa himself conceded that during his regime 1.5 crore tons of iron was illegally exported", he said, and declared the padayatra was not for "political gains, but to awaken the people about the misrule by BJP government, which should quit".

Motamma, Congress leader in the Upper House, urged partymen to maintain discipline and cooperate in making the padayatra a success.

Deshpande said the padayatra will culminate with a rally in Bellary on August 9, coinciding with Quit India Movement day and the message would be "quit BJP from Karnataka. Quit Corruption and Quit mis-rule of BJP".

Former Chief Ministers N Dharam Singh and S Bangarappa and several senior leaders were present during the inaugural function.

Tricolour baloons were released to the air to mark the beginning of the padayatra. The venue had several banners with slogans against mining magnets and Bellary ministers -- G Janardhana Reddy, G Karunakara Reddy and B Sreeramulu.

More than 400 police personnel have been providing security cover to the padayatra in the wake of Siddaramaiah petitioning Governor H R Bhardwaj apprehending trouble from ruling party workers.

Even as the party was preparing for the padayatra, one of the senior leader Ram Bhat collapsed and was rushed to a hospital.

The party had made arrangements for supply of vegetarian food to the participants enroute the Padayatra. A medical team with ambulance is accompanying the padayatra, Congress sources said.

(Published 25 July 2010, 05:27 IST)

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