The little two hamlets of Masur and Abaluru coming under Hirekerur Assembly constituency hit the limelight in 2009 after Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa unveiled the statue of Kannada poet Sarvagna in Chennai in 2009 as the ancient 16th century philosopher hailed from these villages where he was born. The statue of Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar was also installed in Bengaluru as a symbolic gesture to bolster ties between the two states owing to the row over sharing of Cauvery and Hogenakkal water.
The ecstatic people of the villages celebrated the occasion with grandeur as they felt their hamlets would soon turn into tourist destinations. But till date, both villages remain neglected standing mute testimony to the popular saying in Kannada “There is always darkness below light”. The people contend that their villages are neglected as Sarvajna did not belong to any caste like saint Basavanna and Kanakadasa whose names are flaunted by politicians at will for electoral gain to woo their communities. Surprisingly, the neglect continues despite the formation of Sarvajna Development Authority in 2012.
Forty-eight year old Malleshappa Guttennavar, the convener of Sarvajna Pradhikara Horata Samiti, claims that the authority has virtually become non-existent due to the political rivalry between disqualified legislator B.C. Patil and former BJP MLA . U B Banakar. Ironically, both of them have joined hands now to ensure a victory for the BJP and Patil in the Hirekerur bypoll.
The villagers here have their share of plaints and claim that these two leaders are responsible for the neglect though the government has given administrative approval for a grant of Rs 3 crores for their development. They also allege that both politicians failed to conduct a single meeting for the development of the villages where Sarvajna once enthralled people with his three-liners, due to their ego clashes. Officials however cite the election code of conduct as the reason for the delay in carrying out development works.
“There is a need to conduct debates on the Vachanas of the poet and create awareness by translating them into different languages. Both B.C. Patil and Banakar have failed to raise the issue of development of Sarvajna`s villages in the Legislative Assembly when they represented Hirekerur. The issue still figures in the manifesto being released by them in every Assembly election. There is a strong wave against them after both of them came together for their political convenience neglecting our villages”, said Nagangouda Patil, Masur village president of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha.
The Lingayat community dominates Hirekerur constituency followed by Muslims and Kurubas. CM Yediyurappa has managed to quell the dissidence in the BJP by persuading rebel leader U.B. Banakar to back Patil with the bypoll set to witness a direct contest between disqualified legislator Patil and veteran Congress B.H. Bannikod as both of them belong to the Sadar sect of the Lingayats which has around 82,000 voters in the total 1,87,000 strong electorate.
Former legislator Bannikod is riding high hoping to garner the support of the Muslims, Kurubas and SC/ST communities. As for B C Patil, he chants the unity mantra by describing himself and Banakar as ‘Jodettu” (a pair of bulls). A point of concern for him is whether he will be able to garner the support of BJP workers loyal to Banakar at the grass-root level.
Both Patil and Banakar have been highlighting the release of grants of Rs 121 crores by CM Yediyurappa during the last three months for the development of Hirekerur constituency. Patil has also chalked out a strategy to attract the attention of voters towards his schemes for filling 77 lakes, construction of barrage-cum-bridges in several villages and road repair works with the help of these grants. Home minister Basavaraj Bommai, who hails from the district, has been touring the constituency to keep intact the vote bank of the erstwhile Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) which was launched by Yediyurappa after he deserted the BJP.
But Bannikod is no push-over as people still remember his contribution to the implementation of Upper Tunga Irrigation Project. He can also claim a sympathy wave as his son died after attempting self immolation against the delay in granting compensation to land losers of the project in 2010. Ironically, Bannikod had worked hard for the victory of B.C. Patil in the assembly election last year and is now trying to cash in on the ‘betrayal’ factor to gain the confidence of voters....