Housing Minister and film star M.H. Ambareesh’s photo on a banner put up by a Ganesh festival organising committee at Bantarahalli in Hassan taluk recently proved costly for the village residents.

They struggled to get drinking water for eight days as people of the neighbouring Muttige Hirehalli allegedly damaged the pipeline twice, taking exception to the Congress leader’s photo on the banner.

Happy Boys, a forum of youths, had put up the banner in the village which comes under the Mosale Hosahalli Gram Panchayat limits. It had photos of youths on the committee and children apart from Mr. Ambareesh.

Mosale Hosahalli comes under the Holenarsipur Assembly constituency, represented by H.D. Revanna. The area is considered to be a strong hold of the Janata Dal (Secular), as the party’s national president H.D. Deve Gowda hails from this place and Muttige Hirehalli is his wife’s (Chennamma) native place.

According to Bantarahalli residents, Muttige Hirehalli residents allegedly damaged the valves and pipeline supplying drinking water to Bantarahalli from a borewell located near the road connecting both the villages. “They took exception to the fact that banner had Mr. Ambareesh’s photo and not of any JD (S) leader. The youths are Mr. Ambareesh’s fans and that’s why they put up his photo. They had no political interest at all,” a resident of the village, who did not wish to be named, said.

For eight days, the village residents struggled to get drinking water. “What else to do? We were depending on private borewells despite having a borewell drilled by the gram panchayat,” said a woman.

Following complaints by the Bantarahalli residents, the gram panchayat got the repairs done a couple of days ago, but the pipeline was damaged again. However, water supply to the village was restored on Wednesday evening after repairs for the second time.

B.R. Papanna, Panchayat Development Officer, said he was not aware who damaged the pipeline and valves.

“They were damaged twice within a week. Our watermen are local residents and it is difficult for them to complain against any particular person as they fear they will invite trouble by doing so,” he said.

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