The corruption charges that put former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in jail are a non-issue for his home constituency Shikaripur. “Tell me, who has not made money being in politics?’’ his voters ask, candidly.
The only person banking on those charges making a difference is Yeddyurappa’s former friend and now bitter opponent, Congress candidate Shantaveerappa Gouda, who obstinately believes he can win.
“People are seeking a change. I can sense it wherever I go for campaign,” he tells Express.
But he, perhaps, is living on hope. There is certainly an undercurrent of discontent against the sitting MLA and ‘Sahebru’ of Shikaripur, Yeddyurappa. But Gouda needs a tidal wave to win, and most people in the constituency don’t think that is possible. “Yeddyurappa will win, there is no doubt,’’ says Mahesh, a stationery shop owner in Shikaripur town, unequivocally.
The reason for such confidence is not far to seek. Yeddyurappa learnt his lessons after the only loss he has had in this constituency, in 1999, when he was accused of neglecting it. From 2004 to date, he has nursed it extensively and transformed the once small, sleepy town of Shikaripur with facilities that rival and often better the district headquarters, Shimoga.
There are concrete roads to every nook and corner of Shikaripur and Shiralkoppa towns, proper road connectivity to all villages, new buildings for schools, colleges, government offices, drinking water and irrigation facilities.
The government hospital at Shikaripur is said to be better than the one at Shimoga, while the cultural centre here rivals Bangalore’s Ravindra Kalakshetra in size and grandeur.
It is not just the facilities though. On the face of it, Yeddyurappa seems to have developed a very good rapport with the people here.
“For people here, the party is not important, Yeddyurappa is,”says Gurumurthy, Yeddyurappa’s decades-old associate.
He points to the recent elections to the Shikaripur town municipal council which Yeddyurappa’s new party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha, swept, leaving his old party, the BJP, behind. But Gurumurthy cleverly avoids mention of Shiralkoppa, the other big town in the segment which the KJP shared with the Congress.
The JD(S) candidate in the fray, H T Baligar, who has taken voluntary retirement from government service, is trying his best to consolidate votes of the ST community, to which he belongs.