MYSURU: A vegetable vendor in Mysuru, newly elected as the Mysuru Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) president, will now have a say in protecting interests of farmers and traders – both of whom are up against difficulties.Hailing from a humble background in Kurubarahalli, ‘Bellulli’ Basavaraj moved to Hosahundi near Chamundi Hill. With few livelihood options, Basavaraju procured a pushcart and started selling garlic and onion. He has trudged 20-25 km everyday, covering Yelehundi, Uthanahalli, Kadakola and neighbouring villages in the scorching sun for over 12 years.
Poverty forced the son of a mason to give up education after SSLC and take up a job as a daily wage worker in the APMC yard. He then hired a pushcart and decided to sell vegetables, and began earning around `250 a day in 1999. His day began in the wee hours as he had to reach the market, load his cart and push it to villages. He went on to purchase a passenger autorickshaw.
He managed to build a good rapport with villagers and traders by being prompt in repayment and also gained their sympathy by helping farmers. His acts earned him the moniker ‘Bellulli’. “I started my campaign four years in advance, because of which I got to know the pulse of the people. Some mocked me, saying that it would be difficult for a vendor to win,” he told TNIE.He contested from Devalapura general constituency and won. He also participated in protests along with farmers demanding better prices for their produce.
When elections were held for the 20-month tenure, Basavaraju, a Congress-supported candidate, entered the fray for the president’s post.With both JDS and Congress locking horns, Basavaraju and JDS candidate Kotehundi Mahadev ended up in a tie with eight votes each. However, Lady Luck shone on Basavaraju as he was elected through the draw of lots.