Hubballi: With Assembly elections just a few months away, ‘sari politics’ has gained momentum in Ranibennur constituency represented by State Legislative Assembly Speaker K.B. Koliwad.
The supporters of netas are rushing to the doorstep of every household to attract women voters by distributing saris. Though all poor and middle class families are receiving the saris with joy in rural areas, the fans of the aspiring candidates have also been receiving brickbats for offering inducements. Meanwhile, a woman has filed a complaint at Ranibennur rural police station and with the tahsildar against the followers of Mr Koliwad for allegedly giving saris to her.
Though Koliwad is a senior Congress leader who represented the constituency for five terms, he is facing a tough challenge from former BBMP deputy mayor R Shankar who had lost to him by a small margin of over six thousand votes by contesting as an Independent candidate in the previous Assembly election.
Therefore, the Speaker celebrated his birthday last month with much fanfare in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to keep his vote-bank intact. His fans allegedly distributed bags containing saris by displaying Koliwad's name on it among all household in the villages before the birthday bash.
Gram Panchayat members, who are loyal to the Speaker, reportedly continue to distribute saris by verifying the voters’ list to certify the beneficiary voters are Congress voters. "Koliwad’s fans are trying to woo voters a few months before the elections as they will face restrictions once the election code of conduct comes into force. They are spending crores of rupees to attract voters", claimed Anusuya Kudarihal, the woman who lodged the complaint against sari distribution.
Mr Shankar, a Kuruba leader, has migrated from Bengaluru to test his political fortunes as more than 30 per cent of the constituency’s population belongs to his community. He too is reportedly leaving no stone unturned to attract women voters and has been distributing saris throughout the year. He is also distributing utensils and clothing for men citing his house-warming ceremony being held next month in Ranibennur, said sources.