Indian Express

Solution to water woes key factor in Chikkaballapur

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Failure to fulfil a promise he made ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections of providing a permanent water solution for the dry Chikkaballapur and Bangalore Rural regions poses a big hurdle to Union minister M Veerappa Moily’s efforts of being re-elected from his adopted constituency.

He had though recently laid the foundation stone for the Ettinahole project to bring water to the region from Ettinahole, a tributary of Netravathi river in coastal Karnataka.

A solution for the water problems in the region is at the core of the politics in Chikaballapur constituency where Moily was elected for the first time in 2009 after he promised to bring water to the region. The people of the region are looking for a saviour like the mythical Bhagiratha to solve their drinking and irrigation water problems since ground water levels have dipped below 1500 feet and most of the lakes went dry a decade ago.

Although one of Bangalore city’s main water source since 1894 — the Arkavathi river – originates near Chikkaballapur, the region itself has had no source of water supply because the lakes in the Arkavathi basin have dried due to shortage of rainfall.

All the political parties in the fray for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from the constituency have learnt the importance of providing a permanent water solution for the constituency.

Moily is up against formidable opponents in the form of H D Kumaraswamy, the former chief minister of Karnataka and leader of the Janata Dal Secular (JDS), and B N Bachegowda, a former minister from the BJP – both of whom are promising to deliver what Moily has failed to do.

Both Moily and Kumaraswamy had been listed by the Aam Aadmi Party chief Arwind Kejriwal in his list of the most corrupt politicians in India. AAP has fielded a former police officer, K Arkesh, from the constituency but his presence is considered unlikely to elicit much response from voters in the largely rural region.

A former MLA from the Bagepalli constituency G V Sreerama Reddy, who is in the fray on a CPM ticket, is likely to be restricted to winning votes from the Bagepalli area.

In all, there are 19 candidates in the running but the battle boils down to a triangular fight between the Congress, the BJP and the JDS.

The caste factor in the region, where Vokkaliga community is in majority, has not worked out until now as all the Parliament members elected from here belong to the minority castes.

This time, however, there are a lot of calculations based on the caste factor.

The constituency has 16.2 lakh voters, including 5 lakh Vokkaligas, around 4 lakh Dalits, around 2 lakh Balajigas, more than 1 lakh Muslims, nearly 1 lakh Kurubas and around 50,000 Lingayats.

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