By P.T. Bopanna
The neglect of the Kodagu (Coorg) segment of the Mysuru-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency by the sitting BJP member Pratap Simha (in picture) could prove costly for him this time. Journalist-turned politician blundered in confining his activities to Mysuru, even though Kodagu is the main support base of the BJP.
Hindutva journalist Simha from Hassan district, who wrote a biography of Narendra Modi, was imposed on the Mysuru-Kodagu constituency in 2014, thanks to the intervention by Modi. He won mainly on account of JD (S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda’s support because the latter put up a weak JD (S) candidate and asked the Vokkaligas to vote for Simha, who is also a Vokkaliga.
Deve Gowda, known for his caste-based politics, would have played the same trick, but for the fact that this time the JD (S)-Congress alliance has put up C. H. Vijayashankar, a confidante of Congress leader Siddaramaiah.
Siddaramaiah, who lost from Mysuru in the last Assembly election to the JD(S), wants to prove his hold over Mysuru by ensuring the victory of Vijayashankar. Deve Gowda would have thrown the spanner in the works, but for the fact that Siddarmaiah could politically wipe out the Deve Gowda clan who are contesting from Mandya, Hassan and Tumakuru Lok Sabha seats.
The fact that Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah jointly campaigned in Mysuru recently, has made it difficult for Simha to cash in on the Vokkaliga votes from a benevolent Deve Gowda.
Among eight assembly segments in Mysuru-Kodagu constituency, currently Chamaraja and Krishnaraja assembly constituencies in Mysuru district and Virajpet and Madikeri assembly constituencies in Kodagu district are represented by BJP, Chamundeswari, Periyapatna and Hunsur constituencies by JD (S), and only the Narasimharaja assembly constituency is represented by Congress.
Having failed to contribute in a worthwhile manner in the development of the Kodagu segment, Simha has been campaigning in Kodagu mainly on the ‘achievements’ of the Modi government, especially on national security issues which is dear to the people of Kodagu who have military personnel in large numbers.
Simha was ‘absconding’ when Kodagu was faced with a plethora of problems, including the environmentally damaging high-tension line to Kerala, the fall-out of the Kasturirangan report which could affect the Western Ghats, the move to take away the gun licence exemption being enjoyed by the Jamma-holders.
The young BJP MP has been blamed for failing to get adequate compensation from the Union government for victims of the landslides which caused huge damage to the Kodagu landscape last year. Most of the so-called achievements of Simha relating to Kodagu being highlighted in his campaigns like highways and rail lines are only on paper, earning him the sobriquet of being a ‘paper tiger’.
Even though Simha has failed Kodagu, a majority of the people belonging to the Kodava community are going to vote for the BJP because of the popularity of Modi, mainly on account of his muscular nationalism, despite the fact that his government policies have severely hurt the coffee and pepper planters in the district.