Toy makers of Channapatna or silk farmers around Ramanagaram have multiple livelihood issues to deal with. Some are directly related to policies of the central government, but they are not really talking points in the electioneering in Bengaluru Rural, the third biggest Lok Sabha constituency in India.
Mohammad Akram, 51, working at a toy factory in Kalanagar of Channapatna, has a target of making 100 pieces of the Channapatna toy in a day, which enjoys GI tag. “At the end of the day, I can take home only ₹200,” he said. The small scale industry has been hit by demonetisation and GST.
In the biggest cocoon market of Asia in Ramanagaram, reeler Narayana Gowda is worried about the drop in the price of silk. “BJP president Amith Shah had promised to increase silk subsidy when he visited, but did not do anything,” says Shaik Moula of Hookunda village in Kanakapura taluk, when specifically asked if politicians have helped the industry.
Meanwhile, BJP is projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rather than local candidate Ashwathanarayana Gowda in the constituency. MP and Congress candidate D.K. Suresh, on the other hand, is capitalising on his ‘native’ status and the work he has done.
Trying to shake off his ‘outsider’ tag, Mr. Gowda points out that he is a resident of Rajarajeswarinagar, which comes in this constituency. He was a last-minute choice of the BJP.
Unlike in other constituencies, there appears to be synergy between alliance partners Congress and JDS here. “Roads are good and tanks have water,” pointed out Raju Gowda, a JDS worker in Kodihalli in Kanakapura taluk. He has been working for Mr. Suresh.
When distress of silk farmers is pointed out, Mr. Suresh cites abolition of restrictions on silk imports from China by the BJP government. Likewise, Channapatna toy makers are hit by Chinese toys, he adds. Though he appears confident of victory, his own aide points out, “But Mr. Suresh is aware of the fact that he is facing Mr. Modi, not Mr. Gowda.”
Mr. Gowda is banking on the support of C.P. Yogeshwar in Channapatna and urban constituencies such as Bengaluru South, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Magadi and Anekal. The BJP is hoping for a respectable show in these four Assembly segments. “Urban apartment dwellers, most probably, favour BJP,” claimed a BJP leader.