R. Krishna Kumar

Daily wage workers form sizeable chunk of voters

The constituency is predominantly a

Vokkaliga bastion

BJP is yet to make inroads into Maddur

MADDUR: The heat and dust kicked up in the run-up to an election that was missing in the Vokkaliga heartland of Maddur so far, is now beginning to show as the constituency gears up for the byelection slated for Saturday.

Voters’ loyalty

Predominantly a Vokkaliga bastion, where the voters’ loyalty swings between the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to make inroads into this constituency.

Despite the cacophony of election speeches, the publicity materials are hard to come by in Maddur or in the interior region nor are the customary cut-outs, banners and flex visible.

Conspicuous by its absence is the use of loudspeakers in the constituency.

Sowing season

Nestled amidst sugarcane fields and flanked by the Shimsha, the interior region of Maddur too paint a picture of sowing season in full swing with farmers concentrating on their work oblivious to the campaign around them.

The serpentine road winding along the sugarcane and paddy fields cuts across the villages where election is hardly a topic of discussion among the workers who are more worried about their wages.

With hardly four days left for the byelection, leaders of various political parties have begun to descend here in droves and offering the moon to the electorate.

For the daily wage workers who constitute a sizeable chunk of voters, there is a feeling of dejavu as they watch the dust kicked up by the cavalcade of politicians seated in their air conditioned vehicles racing past them with a disinclined wave of hand.

‘Son of the soil’

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has visited the constituency thrice, has repeatedly alluded to his birth at Bookanakere in Mandya district in a bid to wrest the title of “son of the soil” from the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda, who refers to himself as the true “mannina maga”.

The former Prime Minister launched his party’s election campaign at K. Honnalagere in Maddur on Monday with a road show that had all the trappings of a folk festival.

Complete with traditional musicians in the lead, it also had a few party workers appropriately dressed so as to depict the party logo, a woman carrying paddy on her head, draw attention of the voters.

‘Sure winner’

With each party claiming itself to be “sure winner” and backs its claims with various theories of permutation and combination of caste factors, the voters are not to be easily swayed this time.

“We have always voted in the hope of better facilities and improvements in our living conditions. But none of the parties have fulfilled the promises,” said Puttamma, who is a mother of five and ekes out a living as a farm worker.

Last thing

Another group of farm workers said elections were the last thing on their mind though they would definitely vote.

Earning around Rs. 100 a day drying paddy, the farm workers said that they would cast their vote to any candidate “whom they like” without divulging their loyalty.

There is an undercurrent of antipathy against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate D.C. Thammanna, who has switched allegiance from the Congress to BJP though it has been neutralised significantly by a new band of supporters who are seeking a “change” and want to try out the “new party”.

Sympathy factor

But sympathy factor seems to be in favour of Kalpana Siddaraju of the Janata Dal (Secular), who broke down at a public meeting at K. Honnalagere while alluding to her late husband’s contribution to the development of Maddur. But whether the sympathy factor will work in her favour this time around remains to be seen.