In Hassan, aspiring candidates are sponsoring cricket tourneys, theatre performances

In Hassan, a political hot spot, nothing is apolitical. Even a cricket match or a theatre performance can turn out to be a campaign tool.

Many aspiring candidates are making efforts to attract young voters by sponsoring cricket tourneys and theatre shows before the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections kicks in.

The code of conduct comes into force only after the Election Commission announces the election schedule.

In the last one month, three cricket tourneys were held in Basavapatna in Arkalgud taluk which saw participation by teams from different villages. Each of these tourneys was sponsored by probable candidates for the Assembly elections. “More tourneys would have been conducted by this time if there were no exams,” said S. Babu, a resident of Basavapatna.

Many villages in the district have a tradition of inviting theatre troupes to stage dramas twice a year. In the run-up to the elections, however, there has been an increase in the number of such shows as there are more willing sponsors.

In Bilaguli village in Arkalgud taluk alone, three plays were staged in the recent weeks: Shani Mahatme, Chandasurana Vadhe and Kurukshetra. Similarly, in Ragi Maruru village too three plays were staged, each sponsored by a probable candidate.

Every village is divided into many groups, each favouring a different leader/party. When one group stages a show, rival groups also become active and collect funds from their “leader” to stage another show. The sponsor will be the chief guest for the programme.

This trend of cricket tourneys and drama shows is also visible in Arkalgud as the fight for this segment turned interesting after retired IAS officer S. Puttaswamy and founder of Potato Club in the town Yoga Ramesh expressed their interest to contest.

Arkalgud MLA A. Manju recently sponsored a dirt track race and a cricket tourney. Mr. Ramesh has long been preparing the ground through various activities under the banner of the Potato Club. He has distributed lakhs of saplings in the constituency through his club. He has constituted groups of youths in many villages to look after the saplings and has been extending them financial support.

Many candidates have also been distributing calendars carrying their biodata among voters. Lakhs of calendars have already been distributed.

Recently, Janata Dal (Secular) Legislature Party leader H.D. Revanna, who also heads Hassan Milk Producers Union which has jurisdiction over Hassan district and parts of Chikmagalur and Kodagu districts, announced a Rs. 2-hike in the milk procurement price for a litre with effect from March 15. His announcement is being viewed as one aimed at luring milk producers, who constitute a large voting mass in Hassan district.

More In: Karnataka | National