Moily faces heat on water front in CB’Pur

Moily faces heat on water front in CB’Pur

In what seems to be the last electoral battle of their five-decades-long political careers, former chief minister M Veerappa Moily (Congress) and former minister B N Bache Gowda (BJP) are facing each other for the second consecutive time from the Chikkaballapur Lok Sabha constituency.

Moily (79) is aiming a hat-trick win from this Congress citadel, spread across Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural and Urban districts, which gave him a political rebirth by sending him to Parliament in 2009.

From the extremely backward Bagepalli taluk to the upscale Yelahanka New Town in Bengaluru, two diverse issues are dominating the Chikkaballapur poll scene this time: Apathy of the elected representatives to ensure permanent irrigation and drinking water projects for the arid region and national security.

“Moily has been MP for 10 years. He promised us to get water from Yettinahole. But, the project is yet to become a reality. Now, he is speaking of getting the Krishna waters from Andhra Pradesh. He has not fulfilled many other promises he has made in the last 10 years.” These words of Ramesh Reddy of Gudibande reflect the public anger against the Congress veteran. 

Secondly, what is giving Moily the jitters is the Balakot airstrike. Across the constituency, the young and the old alike have been discussing how Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a “fitting reply” to Pakistan for the Pulwama attack. “These people (Congress leaders) are asking for proof... let them go to Pakistan and count the bodies,” says 76-year-old Muniyappa, a farmer from Channarayapatna in Devanahalli Assembly segment, where BJP has hardly any base.

What has worried the Congress camp the most is the yearning of the Vokkaligas to see their community member as the MP. Though there are nearly six lakh Vokkaliga voters in the constituency, no Vokkaliga has won from Chikkaballapur even once.

During the 2014 polls, the Vokkaligas had decided to throw their weight fully behind BJP’s Bache Gowda. But, the community votes got split with H D Kumaraswamy (JD-S) entering the fray at the last moment, apparently to help

To retain the seat, Moily is now banking on the combined strength of Congress and JD(S). “Muslims, SC/STs and OBCs will not let us down. Also, it is not true that all Vokkaligas will support Bache Gowda. We (coalition partners) have seven MLAs and two ministers from the constituency, who will fetch votes for the party. Moily’s contribution to the region is also quite substantial,” says Congress leader Manjunath of Gauribidanur as he exudes confidence of the party’s victory. 

Despite the alliance, many JD(S) leaders are supporting the Congress, which is their traditional rival in the region. “Seeking votes for Congress is suicidal for our party’s future,” said a JD(S) councillor from Doddaballapur.

Known for his political aggression, Bache Gowda (77) is leaving nothing to chance to avenge his narrow defeat at Moily’s hands in 2014. He believes that “strong anti-incumbency” sentiments against Moily and “Modi wave” will take him to Parliament. The BJP is hoping for a big lead in its stronghold of Yelahanka, which is the largest Assembly segment in the constituency.