Siddu B Nayamagouda was a sober and soft-spoken. He was popularly called Barrage Siddu or Barrage Hero in Bagalkot district. He never compromised with his works in his political career.
He was always a farmer and people friendly leader. He had no rivalries in the political circles and social life, as he was approachable and didn’t have a superiority complex.
He came into limelight when he led the construction of Chikkapadasalgi barrage across the Krishna river for the welfare of farmers in 1980s. In 1985, Nayamagouda approached then Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde to accord permission to construct the barrage. But he told him to collect a minimum amount of Rs 5 lakh.
Without waiting and taking it as a challenge, Nayamgouda established Krishna Teerada Raitha Sangha (Krishna Bank Farmers Association) and collected Rs 500 from each farmer from 30 villages in his belt. Within a week, he was able to meet the target. Then again he met Hegade to give the account details of his association. The CM was shocked.
Later, the then Belagavi Zilla Parishat President Amarsimha Patil passed a bill to construct the barrage and sanctioned Rs 5 lakh, even though it was not permitted. The Central Government under its ‘Kaparta’ sanctioned Rs 28 lakh. In 1988, Nayamagouda successfully built the Chikkapadasalgi barrage and that victory made him a farmer leader in Bagalkot and was nicknamed as Barrage Hero.
Hegde contested the 1991 Lok Sabha elections from Bagalkot, as five out of seven assembly constituencies were represented by the Janata Dal legislators. It was also a prestigious election for the then Chief Minister S Bangarappa, who was on toes to defeat Hegde.
Congress which didn’t have a strong contestant against Hegde, fielded Nayamgouda.
In a shocker, Nayamgouda won the election by a margin of more than 22,000 votes. This was the beginning of the political career of the Barrage Hero. He was also included in the cabinet of the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.
He came from farmer background, who knew all the problems faced by the community. After becoming legislator, he addressed most of the problems of farmers of his region. To help sugarcane growers, he also started the Jamkhandi Sugar Factory at Naganur. He can also be called a farmer leader. His demise is unbearable in this region
(The authour is the President of Belagavi District Kannada Organisations Action Committee)