In Karnataka’s Badami, Siddaramaiah eyes gains from pro-poor plans
A tanker drips water into a pit at the entrance of the tribal hamlet of Thogunasi in the Badami assembly constituency in northern Karnataka. The hamlet is located on the southern side of the village, separated by the district highway that runs from Badami town to Guledgudda town. As a result, Thogunasi Thanda, where people form the nomadic Lamani tribe live, does not have a fair price shop and the residents do not have title deeds to the land they live on.
“We Lamanis have been living off the forests for generations but now we can’t enter it because of those authorities,” said Gangadhar Rathod, referring to the forest department. “But now that our Thanda has been recognised as a village, we will not need to depend on anybody, we will get titles to our lands,” he said.
Badami is the second seat from where chief minister Siddaramiah is contesting, apart from Chamundeshwari in the southern part of the state.
Thogunasi village has a population of 600 and locals say this decision could change the face of their village.
Not only has the government notified the Thanda as a new village but the area where it is located, Guledgudda, has been notified as a new taluk. “Along with the Anna Bhagya, this is the scheme that will benefit the oppressed castes the most,” said Lokesh Kattimani, another resident of the Thanda, highlighting the state government scheme to provide seven kilograms of free rice a month per person for Below Poverty Line (BPL) households.
For people of the village and the soon-to-be taluk, the fact that Siddaramaiah is contesting from the seat is an added bonus. “We have to support those who work for us,” Kattimani said.
However, Siddaramaiah has a battle on his hands as he is pitted against B Sriramulu of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
And yet, the CM has other factors in his favour, especially the goodwill from the decision to recognise Lingayats as a minority religion. The move for a separate religion was backed by influential mutts in the region. The BJP’s campaign is based on attacking this move as a means to divide society. Veeraiah, a local party worker and Lingayat, said there were many other issues that the area was facing. “Was this the only worthwhile issue he found?”
Then there is Siddaramaiah’s caste. According to a district administration official, of the 216,000 voters in the constituency, at least 45,000 belong to the backward Kuruba caste, to which the chief minister belongs. In fact, the sitting legislator, BB Chimmanakatti, is a Kuruba himself and is campaigning for Siddaramaiah.
Another issue is that of sharing of the Mahadayi river water among Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Goa has objected to a water diversion project of Karnataka. Siddique Yakub Patil, who grows onions on his five-acre land, echoed the anger of farmers in the region when he said he would call on all the farmers in the region to vote NOTA. HT had reported earlier this year about farmers who had vowed to canvass for NOTA as they were fed up with the failure of the principal parties in addressing the Mahadayi issue. “The noose is the only fate that waits farmers no matter who is elected in this state. All these politicians have made their money, where will they have the time or the inclination to solve our problem?” Patil said.
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