Karnataka

Returnees from cities find a new purpose in Karnataka gram panchayat polls

Men holding an informal meeting in a village near Belagavi to discuss issues related to the GP polls.   | Photo Credit: BADIGER P.K.

In an interesting trend developing in the gram panchayat elections this year, those who have returned from cities after losing their livelihoods during and after the lockdown are finding a purpose in these polls.

Some, like Siddalingappa Patil, are actively working in their villages. Mr. Patil recently returned to his home village of Bagewadi, near Hukkeri, after nearly six years in Mumbai. He went to Mumbai seeking work in the factories. When he felt he had saved some money to start a business in his home district, he decided to come back. “That was in February. But before I could move, we were hit by the COVID-19 lockdown. I had to wait in Mumbai till October. By that time, I lost a lot of money. My business stopped and my savings were used up. But I had made up my mind to come back and I could not stay in that city any longer,” he said.

He gathered some friends and started a foodgrain and seed wholesale business. But that is not what keeps him busy most days. He has been busy preparing for the gram panchayat elections, helping his friend Eshwar Badiger contest. “Members of the Badiger (carpenter) community are largely concentrated in our village. But no one from the community has ever won a seat in our gram panchayat. I want to put my weight behind him and help him win this time,” said Mr. Patil.

He said that like him, many people who have returned from big cities during or after the lockdown are active in the gram panchayat polls. “They want to use that knowledge of networking to their benefit here,” he said.

“The gram panchayat polls seem to give them a sense of purpose,” said Shankar Sannagonda, who has himself come to his village of Ambewadi in Khanapur after working for a few years in a brick factory in Goa. “They travel to the taluk headquarters or Belagavi to help their fellow villagers or to take up development works in the village. Otherwise, they feel bad about having landed in the village after leaving lucrative jobs or the active city life,” he said. One of his brothers, who worked for a hotel in Goa, is contesting in the elections.

Rajasab Makandar of Jakkanatti is fielding his sister-in-law. He worked as a painter in Sangli and Miraj for a few years. “I am helping my sister-in-law Nishabi, only to send a message that I have not lost touch with friends at Jakkanatti and surrounding villages,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:59:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/returnees-from-cities-find-a-new-purpose-in-karnataka-gram-panchayat-polls/article33388889.ece

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