Ballari: For the people of the Ballari city, mining, or even illegal mining, is no longer an issue. Instead voters of the town, that looks parched with the mercury soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, want basic amenities such as drinking water and affordable housing.
While the Reddy brothers, mining barons turned politicians, had promised to convert Ballari into one of the most developed cities in the country in their hey day here, nothing much has changed on the ground.
As the candidates of the Congress, BJP and JD(S) go door to door, seeking the locals’ support, they are met with demands on water supply and other issues. Congress MLA Anil Lad was recently cornered by a group of women, who wanted to know why he had never bothered to visit them over the past five years. “We get water just once in 20 days and you now come to us for votes,” said one of them.
In response, the legislator admitted that water was a huge problem in the constituency, but claimed he had tried his best to improve its supply as well as the condition of the roads and law and order in Ballari city.
“I have ensured that Ballari is peaceful. There is less crime now than when the Reddy brothers ruled here,” he said.
Former minister G. Janardhan Reddy’s brother, Somashekhar, who was arrested in 2012 by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly trying to bribe a judge, has been fielded by the BJP now and he is campaigning across the constituency with the promise of bringing back “Ballari’s lost glory.”
JD(S) candidate for the city, Mohammed Iqbal Hothur, tells people he has prepared a vision document for the overall development of Ballari “When I meet women, they say that they want water at least thrice a week. I tell them I have prepared a vision document to provide drinking water 24x7 to every household” he adds, promising to build a “brand new Ballari.”