Come 2018 - Something is brewing in Kodagu district and this time it is definitely not coffee. At the onset of the state election, internal-fissures have developed both in the BJP and Congress's Kodagu units. Ticket aspirants from both the parties are angling to their respective leadership in an attempt to contest in the upcoming polls.
While BJP-has scored four consecutive victories in Madikeri and three at Virajpet constituency, other senior leaders from the party have questioned 'why not them, this time?'. "Both Appachu Ranjan (Madikeri) and K G Bopaiah (Virajpet) have served as the legislators for multiple times. Congress state government has not made much efforts to retain voters confidence in the region. Therefore this is formidably safe-seat for BJP, so why not others be given the opportunity to serve the people," a 49-year old senior BJP leader said.
Further, according to party sources, RSS is strongly batting for the candidature of BJP district unit president B B Bharathish in Madikeri, due to his Sangh background. In Virajpet, caste factors is taking its own course with local community representative asking BJP to replace K G Bopaiah - belonging to a Gowda community to one of their own from Kodava background.
Meanwhile, in Congress while late Congress leader, Biddatanda T Pradeep would have been the natural choice for the party from Virajpet constituency, his untimely demise in 2017, has left a vacuum in the local leadership. While Veena Achaiah would have been the next formidable candidate to contest BJP candidate in Virajpet, Congress leaders say that few in the party have intently nominated her as MLC, to diffuse her MLA aspirations.
Former State Public Prosecutor H.S. Chandramouli, KPCC general secretary and Zilla Panchayat member K P Chandrakala, among others are making rounds as ticket aspirants from Madikeri. Whereas, Personal Secretary to District in-charge Minister Sitharam, K Harish Bopanna, Karnataka Forest Development Corporation Vice-Chairperson, Padmini Ponnappa, and former MLC Arun Machaiah, are learnt to place their candidacy prospectus before the party.
"The candidate selection issue in Kodagu is something that the district units have to resolve themselves. Not only their own unit, but even people will be put-off if high command intervention is seen in the process. Locals are not-so-forgiving for outsider intervention in any matter, that's the reason - while national leaders of any political parties may start a rally or procession in Madikeri, no one will come and address here, as it may have counter-effect on the parties winning chances," Pradeep, a local journalist says.
The infighting within the two major parties is definitely a boon for JD(S) candidate former Forest Minister B.A.Jivijaya from Madikeri, who along with his political image is also popular for his environmental pro-initiative - that has been recognised locally. The 75-year old, who was formerly with Congress missed his chances in 2013 election with 4629 votes. JD(S) District President Sanketh Poovaiah has been announced by the JD(s) as the party candidate from the Virajpet.
In the district with active-citizen following for ecological-concerns, no party can turn its back on this matter. It was keeping in tandem with this feeling and regional outrage, that recently the Ministry of Railways indefinitely shunned its ambitious Mysuru-Thalassery railway line proposal - that would require to fell over lakhs of trees. The railway project was anticipated to connect Kodagu - the last district in the state with the rest.
Even while Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's strongly mooted for the Tipu Jayanthi, local Congress leaders had meticulously distanced themselves from the celebration. "Of course our state leaders felt that there was a larger message of secularism to be sent across and as it is without being in power at the district, they felt they had nothing to lose. However, that one event has overshadowed - the other state government initiative for providing better of local infrastructure for the region. We just hope, people don't hold it (Tipu Jayanti) against local representative while voting," a local Congress leader allayed concern.
Similarly, even BJP's 'Mission 150' faces stiff resistance from the region, while party would like to play it safe by renominating sitting MLA's, there is a strong anti-incumbency sentiment among the people. 'Nangada desa (Kodagu) nangada bashe' will always be a rallying cry for Kodava's. Irrespective of the stature of the leader at the state or the national level, if the leaders pay no heed for Kodava sentiment; transcending party, religion, caste, class - people will simply look-away," Manju, a local says.
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