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Datta Peetha issue on backburner, BJP may find it tough here

Chikkamagaluru, which was earlier a Congress stronghold, turned into a BJP bastion in the last two decades after the shrine row erupted.

Published: 11th May 2018 05:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th May 2018 06:26 AM   |  A+A-

Devotees at Baba Budan Giri shrine

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  During a rally in Chikkamagaluru in 2000, present Union minister Ananth Kumar had vowed to make Chikkamagaluru the ‘Ayodhya of Dakshin Bharath’. The Sangh Parivar’s movement to claim ritual rights at Baba Budan Giri Hills succeeded and the hills which is said to be the birthplace of coffee witnessed the rise in communal flare-ups.It’s been 18 years since then and the issue has finally taken the backseat this election. Today, Inam Dattatreya Baba Budan Swami Dargah, atop Baba Budan Giri hills is visited by Muslims. As the numbers were coming down, the local Hindu organisations started taking up special rituals during full moon days. 

Sitting MLA of Chikkamagaluru, C T Ravi, has won the election thrice consecutively. For BJP Baba Budan Giri Datta Peetha has been an issue for the last many years. Since centuries, both Hindus and Muslims have been offering prayers at this Sufi dargah, but in the last two decades, the issue of Datta Peetha has been raked up by the BJP claiming it’san Hindu shrine. But this elections, the people in the Ghats of Chikkamagaluru are asking for more than a shrine. With no major irrigation projects planned to feed the district and Chikkamagaluru town, the voters are now asking the representatives about plans on water.

“The Upper Bhadra project which is expected to be commissioned in the next few months may be of little help for Chikkamagaluru. The town is now dependent on waters from Yagachi dam which is located about 20 km away. The hill ranges in Chikkamagaluru have perennial cascades but the town has been facing drinking water crisis for many years. In the plains of the district — Kadur and Tarikere — the water problem has aggravated,” said a analyst from Chikkamagaluru.

In the last few years the tourists footfalls have increased and created an issue with solid waste management. The plastic menace has aggravated at tourists spots and one can find plastic all along the rivers and waterfalls. “How difficult it is declare the district plastic-free? The MLAs never speak on the issues which require larger attention. Saving what we have is important work now. The river beds, waterfalls, catchment area and forests needs to be preserved from the pressure of tourists and waste,” says Vasanth Kumar, a planter in Chikkamagaluru.

‘We Are Farmers Too’
Fed up with the increasing expenditure in growing coffee, planters are now demanding the government to consider them as farmers. “It has now become difficult to maintain large estates. While coffee prices are constantly falling, the expenditure on labour, fertilizer and marketing are getting costlier by the day.  Most of the estate owners are facing labour problems that has aggravated after freebies were offered by the state government such as rice and other items,” Vasanth adds.

D V Girish, a conservationist from Chikkamagaluru, says, “The district is one of the important points in Western Ghats. It is essential that these landscapes are preserved and protected for the future. We need people with vision.”

Giri Coffee - Birth place of coffee 
A variety of coffee grown in the foothills of the Ghat ranges in Chikkamagaluru is considered the best coffee of Karnataka. It is believed that the Sufi saint Baba Budan who came from Arabia, brought coffee seeds and planted here.

When Indira Gandhi won From Chikkamagaluru
Post Emergency, in 1977 Indira Gandhi contested from Chikkamagaluru and had won against Veerendra Patil of Janata Dal. She had secured 88% of votes. Then the district was considered as stronghold of Congress, but in the later years it is seen as a BJP bastion. 

Fight between Congress and BJP 
There are three constituencies in the Western Ghats region of Chikkamagaluru. Mudigere, Sringeri and Chikkamagaluru are considered BJP’s strongholds but this time there could be surprises, even for three-time MLA C T Ravi

Tallest peak In Karnataka
Mullayyanagiri is the tallest peak in Karnataka. At a height of 1,930 mts it is only second to Nilgiri and Himalayas. Two of the other tallest peaks of Karnataka too are located in Chikkamagaluru.

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