Hubballi: A strange sight greets visitors to Telasang and other villages in Athani taluk, with large boards installed on their outskirts prohibiting the entry of disqualified legislator, Mahesh Kumatalli.
While the former MLA may have been successful in bringing down the coalition government in July, he is paying a heavy price , particularly, in his native village of Telasang in Athani taluk, where he is no longer welcome for campaigning.
The people, who accuse him of selling his position for money, have declared that politicians like him will not be allowed into their village, which they see as a holy place of the Shivayogi seer. They deplore that Mr Kumatalli chose to stay in Mumbai while their villages were flooded in the monsoon.
In fact, to the dismay of both Mr Kumatalli and Dy CM Laxman Savadi, they were forced to turn back in the face of the people's anger, from the village of Nadi Ingalagav in the taluk, when they ventured there for campaigning recently. The villagers here were upset at the delay in distribution of compensation even three months after the floods devastated their lives.
As for Telasang village, it was prone to drought before floods hit Athani and other taluks of Belagavi district. The people, who wanted release of water from the Koyna dam to help them fight drought, welcomed the Siddaramaiah government's project to fill up 11 lakes in the region and had a great deal of expectation from Mr Kumatalli who was from their village.
But to their disappointment, he spent most of his time away from the constituency and never visited Telasang, even to thank the people after he was elected.
“Mahesh Kumatalli won the election owing to the good lead he got in our village. But he never visited us and other flood-hit areas. So now, we have displayed a board on the outskirts of the village to prohibit his entry. The people of many other flood-hit villages have put up similar banners to express their anger against him,” said Telasang villager and taluk panchayat member, Shivu Guddapur.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who campaigned in Telasang village on Friday, accused Mr Kumatalli of “selling himself” to the BJP for money “like a sheep, hen or buffalo" and asserted that the Congress would return to power following the December 5 byelections.
“The disqualified legislators claim they deserted the Congress for the BJP for the development of their constituencies. But this is a total lie,” he said....