Raichur, which was one of the six places suggested by the now-defunct newsweekly Blitz in 1980 as ideal locations to replace New Delhi as the Capital of India from the strategic and security point of view, today stares at a horrible reality.
This historic town is so underdeveloped that one wonders whether it deserves to be a district headquarters. The Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) generates 30 per cent of the State’s power requirement.
Another mega thermal power has been planned here. But the district reels under darkness. Despite having the famous Hutti Gold Mines, which produce hundreds of tonnes of the yellow metal, the district has not seen any glitter of development. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in the district are irrigated by the Tungabhadra and Krishna projects but that has not helped check the unabated death of malnourished children.
Ground water has been exploited so much that thousands of hectares of land have become saline. Siltation has reduced the capacity of the Tungabhadra reservoir by 30 per cent. Dozens of small towns and villages face acute shortage of drinking water.
The list of problems in Raichur parliamentary constituency (ST) is long, but none of them is on the political agenda as elections are to be held barely 10 days from now.
The two main contenders – Shivanagouda Nayak of the BJP and B V Nayak of the Congress – not only hail from the same village (Arakera) in Devadurga taluk, but are also related to each other. The two Nayaks hardly talk about the issues and problems.First elected to the Assembly on the JD(S) ticket in 2008, Shivanagouda resigned in the ‘Operation Lotus’ of the BJP and went to get re-elected on its ticket to become a minister in the Yeddyurappa government. He, however, lost to Venkatesh Nayak of the Congress in Devadurga (ST) seat in the 2013 Assembly elections.
Alien to the field
Venkatesh Nayak, a four-time MP, is alien to development politics. People say they do not recall even a single contribution of his to the development of Raichur. And the Congress picked his son, B V Nayak, to take on Shivanagouda. “As far as Devadurga is concerned, neither Modi nor Rahul matters,” remarked Ningappa Poojary of Katnalli village. “It’s only the two Nayaks here.’’
Babu, a resident of Devadurga, complains that the Ashraya houses sanctioned during Shivanagouda’s stint as MLA were cancelled by Venkatesh. “Shivanagouda has done a lot for the development of the taluk. He is a dynamic leader and the Nayak community is proud of him,” said Hussain Sab, another resident.
Shivanagouda appeared confident about his prospects until the Congress’ campaign picked up. The main grouse against him is his “rude behaviour” which has not gone down well with the Lingayats, the Scheduled Castes and government servants. “If he loses the election, it should be attributed to his loose tongue,’’quipped Dharmanna of Manvi. But the “Modi wave” may help him sail through, he added.
Of the eight Assembly seats in the constituency, four are represented by the Congress, two by the JD (S) and one each by the BJP and the KJP. Five Assembly seats are in Raichur district and three in Yadgir district. The BJP hopes to do well in Shahpur, Shorapur, Devadurga and Raichur Rural.
The JD(S) fielded D B Nayak, a retired government officer, after its designated candidate Amareshwar Nayak defected to the Congress. There are 11 candidates in the fray, including Raja Thimmappa Nayak of the BSP and Bhimaraya Jaradbandi of the Aam Aadmi Party.