Last Friday, 4th May 2018, I gave a sprinter’s chase to Dr. Yathindra, son of Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, who was on a roller-coaster election tour of his Varuna Constituency as a Congress party candidate. A medical doctor by profession, he was brought into politics by his father after the sad and untimely demise of his brother Rakesh Siddharamaiah, a very dynamic and aggressive youngster who seemed 100% made for politics. In contrast, Dr. Yathindra seemed rather too gentle, soft-spoken, even humble for the kind of highly competitive and pro-active, sometimes chaotic, electioneering.
By the time I joined his election caravan, commonly known as Road Show, it was about 3 O’ Clock and he had already covered a few villages like Kupparavalli, Belagunda, a village apparently named recently as Kanakanagara, Sannamallupura and Sonahalli. We were able to catch-up with him at Kirugunda where he was heading after having lunch at one of his party worker’s house.
As could be expected, only vehicles with permission from the Election Commission could follow his vehicle. The Election Commission team was armed with video cameras to keep an eagle’s eye on the violation of the election Model Code of Conduct. My vehicle with the PRESS sticker on the windscreen followed the Congress Prachara Ratha (Congress publicity vehicle) specially designed out of a pick-up van with steps in the rear to climb and a handle-bar to hold in front.
Surprisingly, the roads connecting different villages are gleaning black betraying these roads were laid recently. At Kirugunda, Dr. Yathindra mounted the ‘Ratha’ from the car and the vehicle moved in snail’s pace on the recently-laid concrete streets of the inner village which seemed a big village indeed. I chose to walk with the cheering crowd behind the vehicle which was led by a music band playing a celebratory ear-splitting music. Wearing a P-cap with a mobile microphone in hand, Dr. Yathindra would speak at different points to the crowd.
As could be expected, it was an election speech criticising BJP and extolling the virtues of Congress and the service his father as Chief Minister has done for the poor and the depressed — rattling of the number of ‘Bhagyas’, the blessings, like free food, milk, waiver of loans etc., given to the poor. This done, the vehicle would move along the street, lined on either side with village houses — some ramshackle, some with tile roof, some with sheet roof. The women and children emerged from their humble abode looking at the passing procession in awe and some holding ‘arati thatte’, placed with a cake of jaggery, flowers, vermilion powder, a lit mini-lamp as an expression of welcome and blessing. After about 20 minutes, I was hoisted on the ‘Ratha’ by the followers of the candidate and I willingly climbed the steps and stood near Dr. Yathindra who was oblivious of my presence being engaged in addressing the crowd. (See picture)
And then there appeared a Church and we dismounted from the vehicle to go there. This done, the march of seeking votes continued but I decided to break off. With BJP’s B.Y. Vijayendra, son of former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, out of the race from Varuna, the BJP has already lost the seat. My prediction. Dr. Yathindra will win hands down. It is a one-horse race in Varuna. Any bet? Don’t be a loser.