By Nivedita Niranjankumar
Chitradurga: BJP president Amit Shah’s speech at Holalkere district in Chitradurga, Karnataka was lost in translation on Wednesday. His monologue did not register with his non-Hindi speaking audience.
He had to pull in former state health minister Arvind Limbavali to translate for him and break the language barrier. Before Limbavali joined him, the crowd responded with a ‘no’ even when Shah asked if they wanted BS Yeddyurappa as chief minister.
The exchange went thus:
“Aapko Congress se koi paisa mila hai kya?” (Did you get any money from Congress?)
“Iss sarkar, jo vote bank politics khelti hai, isko ukhad dena chahiya yaa nahi?” (Shouldn't this government, which plays vote bank politics, be uprooted?)
“Kya aap BS Yeddyurappa ji ko mukhyamantri banayenge?” (Will you make BJP state chief BS Yeddyurappa the chief minister?)
In August, a language war of sorts was witnessed in Karnataka. Siddaramaiah even requested the Centre to redesign Bangalore Metro signboards, eliminating Hindi in favour of Kannada and English.
Freebies offered, claim attendees
Over 10,000 people, including farmers, daily wage workers and small businessmen, turned up to hear Amit Shah speak. Through the speech, the name of BJP candidate M Chandrappa evoked lots of cheers. Chandrappa won the 2008 state elections from Holalkere constituency. He lost the seat in the 2013 polls when he fought on a ticket from BS Yeddyurappa’s KJP, after BSY’s rift with saffron party.
There were significant efforts to display support for Chandrappa. Around 15 buses filled with people from surrounding taluk Hosadurga reached the venue to cheer him. Two other candidates are expected to contest for the BJP ticket from the constituency.
A group of young men from Hiriyur dressed in orange T-shirts screamed their support for Chandrappa. Sunil, 28, who works as a porter, said, “We were asked to come and cheer whenever Chandrappa’s name was called out.” Another person in the group, who did not wish to be named, said, “We were told Modi would be attending. We did not see him here.”
A video circulating among media persons at the event also purportedly showed people crowding a petrol pump with their two-wheelers, claiming to have been promised “free petrol” by Chandrappa. Many others also said they were promised something if they attended the speech.
Around 50 people from Ramgere, most of whom women, were told they “would get free food for attending one function and clapping when asked to do so.” Vaniakka (name changed), a farmer, said, “They came to our doors yesterday. They said we had to be ready at 9 am today for autos and buses that would pick us up and drop us at the venue. We were told we would get free food, some of which we could take home too.”
While some were lured by the promise of free food and petrol, others sought the huge flex banners, which were displayed in large numbers. Soon after the event ended, Eshwarappa, a Holalkere resident, was seen folding a banner sporting Shah's face. He was taking it home. “The banners make for a great cover for the cow shed and the lining of the houses. They make for good raincoats too,” he said.
Shah goes after Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar
Accusing Karnataka Congress of arresting development of the state, Shah listed out alleged scams under the Siddaramaiah government, including the Arkavathy land scam, and even called its Anna Bhagya scheme — the Siddaramaiah government's flagship programme that seeks to rid the state of hunger — a failure. The scheme promised 7 kilograms of rice to each individual of a Below Poverty Line (BPL) family. Shah accused Congress of misappropriating funds and illegally allotting land to family members.
He even pointed to the Income Tax raid on Power Minister DK Shivakumar’s home in August. “They found so much money from his house. Why has Siddaramaiah still kept him in the party?”
Shah appealed to the crowd, saying when Congress was in power at the Centre, they allotted Rs 88,583 crore for Karnataka during the 13th Finance Commission, and claimed that BJP allotted Rs 2,19,506 crore to the state in the 14th Finance Commission (101reporters could not independently verify this information).
“We allotted more money even though the state is ruled by our Opposition, Congress, because we care for the development of this state. Despite this, the corrupt Congress has not given the money to your village or any village in the state. The farmers are still suffering. We promise to change that,” Shah said.
Nivedita Niranjankumar is a Bengaluru-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 08:31 AM