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Chief Minister gets a taste of rural life

Special Correspondent



LENDING AN EAR: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy listening to members of the Stree Shakti group at Chikkakanya village on Thursday. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

CHIKKAKANYA (MYSORE DISTRICT): This obscure village near Sindhuvalli, off the Mysore-Nanjangud road, was agog with excitement and basked in the limelight as Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy camped here overnight to apprise himself of rural problems.

For the villagers who have not seen much development — barring the facilities provided by TVS Motors, which has a manufacturing plant nearby — the Chief Minister's visit was an opportunity to place some demands before him. Assurances were made with regard to some and many of the demands were approved on the spot.

Mr. Kumaraswamy, who arrived here past midnight, stayed in a "thotti mane" belonging to Shivamurthy. For dinner there were items such as `ragi mudde,' `soppina palya' and `ragi halva.' Before retiring for the night, on a mat on the ground, the Chief Minister spent time with village elders discussing their problems.

In the morning, Mr. Kumaraswamy had a quick glance at the newspapers and went for a stroll around the village at 6 a.m. A battery of officials, police personnel and scores of party workers accompanied him.

But the Chief Minister broke through the cordon of officials and party workers and interacted with the villagers. He went into the house of a villager who, because of snakebite, had a festering wound on his leg and directed the officials to arrange for meeting his medical expenses.

As the Chief Minister went round the village, some of the more daring among the villagers submitted memorandums seeking better facilities for the village.

A junior college and a school were sanctioned on the spot while directives were issued to improve the power supply situation.

The village has a population of nearly 1,000 people and is dominated by Lingayats with a sizeable section of Dalits.

When the Dalits told the Chief Minister that there was no burial ground near the village, the officials were told to ensure that land was made available.

Mr. Kumaraswamy then met the press and announced a dairy for the village as demanded by the youth and promised a primary health centre and a veterinary hospital.

When asked if his village sojourn in the run-up to the byelection from Chamundeshwari constituency did not amount to a publicity stunt, Mr. Kumaraswamy said, "Let us talk of development and keep politics aside."

Around 11.15 a.m. on Thursday, the Chief Minister's convoy left for Nanjangud.

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