RAICHUR: In Raichur, where every crop loss haunts farmers and drinking water is another worry, national issues dominate the public discourse, in as many other constituencies. While the BJP is not letting the public forget Pulwama and Balakot surgical strike — national security, in short — the Congress is trying hard to keep the narrative tied to the pains of demonetization and livelihood issues.
“How could we forget those days of demonetization three years ago, when we stood for days in queues to withdraw our own money?” asks Mastan Sab in Googal village of Devadurga taluk. “Is there any guarantee that Modi will not experiment with such measures again if he comes back to power?”
Says Veerabhadraiah, a businessman of Devadurga, “We will not vote for BJP. We suffered due to demonetization as well as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’. Even today, I have not come out of the losses I suffered.”Manjunath Patil of Huvinadagi village near Devadurga countered Veerabhadraiah, saying these steps taken by the NDA government were to bring financial discipline. He refused to believe that people lost anything. “Only those with black money, the corrupt and anti-social elements suffered due to demonetization. Common people have suffered but those are teething troubles for good governance.”
There are more down-to-earth debates too, like the rapidly falling water table, and Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. Due to scanty rainfall, both kharif and rabi crops have failed. Though the coalition government implemented the farm loan waiver, and NDA government at the Centre brought in Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana, both failed to reach all the farmers of Raichur, says Ramappa of Rayakunta village. “The central scheme is better than the ‘Saala Manna Scheme’ of the state government, but the Rs 6,000 per annum to be given to farmers under this scheme is not sufficient. It should be increased to at least Rs 15,000,” he suggests.
The contestants, though, are banking on the caste matrix. Raichur MP BV Naik, who is seeking re-election on the Congress ticket, is pitted against former MLA Raja Amareshwar Naik of the BJP. Naik’s father late Venkatesh Naik had represented the constituency four times in the Lok Sabha.Here, the minority and OBC votes will be the deciding factors. The Kuruba community in the OBC seems to be unhappy with the Congress and Siddaramaiah, who preferred Rajshekhar Itnal over Virupakshappa for the Koppal ticket.
The aggressive minority vote will help Congress, while the SC (Left) and Lingayats will favour BJP. SC (Right) whose voting population is less than SC (Left) will vote for Congress, said political analyst Venkatesh Patil.
In this constituency of eight assembly segments, BJP has won four segments (Raichur City, Devadurga, Yadgir and Shorapur), the Congress is strong in three segments (Raichur Rural, Lingasugur and Shahpur), and JD(S) has a sole MLA in Manvi. While this could help the coalition consolidate its vote, it should also reflect on the unhappy voters who plan to boycott the elections.
Like the people of Neelakantharayan Gaddi village of Shorapur taluk, which gets marooned every monsoon, are upset that no government has responded until now to their demand for a bridge across the river Krishna to help the villagers shift to safer places.
The villagers of Kirdalli Thanda of Shorapur taluk have a bigger worry: the water with arsenic content which is reportedly causing cancer. Social activist Lalu Chauhan says successive governments have failed to help the people. Sharanu Gadduge, pontiff of Shri Charabasaveshwara Gadduge in Shahapur town of Yadgir district, says that most MPs of Raichur have spent their grants on constructing Samudaya Bhavans to please people. They have done nothing for the people, he says.