As the poll battle heats up in Karnataka’s Mandya district, speculation has surfaced over Congress-JD(S) candidate Nikhil Kumaraswamy allegedly using state machinery to advance his own campaign, while impeding the electioneering of independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh.
Nikhil, the son of CM HD Kumaraswamy, is up against Sumalatha, wife of the late Sandalwood star and Congress MLA Ambareesh. With Sumalatha gathering the support of rebel Congress leaders, her late husband’s supporters and the BJP, the JD(S) is now faced with the possibility of Nikhil Kumaraswamy losing the elections.
Power cuts to impede electioneering
Supporters of Sumalatha allege that the JD(S) had instructed the Deputy Commissioner’s office to cut power across Mandya when Sumalatha filed her nomination papers on March 3.
Madan, Sumalatha’s polling agent, told TNM, "We had raised this issue first when Sumalatha had filed her nomination papers. Power and cable TV services were disrupted so people could not watch the procession. We have received information that it has happened a few times after that.”
Sumalatha had in March openly accused the Mandya district administration of double standards and said that a notification had been issued to the Deputy Commissioner’s office to instruct the officials to not cut power on the day Nikhil Kumaraswamy filed his nomination papers. TNM is in possession of an order issued by the district administration, which stated that there would be no power cuts on March 25.
JD(S) insiders claim that the power was also cut when Sumalatha was campaigning in Malavalli so her speech could not be heard by supporters.
Luring farmers with water supply?
Officials with the Water Resource Department have allegedly been instructed to release water from the Krishna Raja Sagara reservoir into irrigation canals in Mandya. This is allegedly an effort to show Nikhil as fulfilling a campaign promise to farmers who typically protest for water during the summer season, JD(S) insiders say.
According to an official with the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited, 3,800 cusecs of water have been released to the Visvesvaraya canal in Mandya for irrigation purposes. “In the last five years, the government had declared that water in the KRS would be used for drinking purposes and it was meant for residents of Bengaluru and Mysuru. Crop holidays were declared during summers in the last five years but now we have been instructed not to cause problems for farmers,” the official added.
According to the KRS officials, the dam currently has 14.89 TMC water which is at 95.22 ft in the reservoir. “Last year during this time, we had only 6.41 TMC of water left. There is surplus water compared to last year but generally, we utilize the water for drinking purposes in Bengaluru,” the official added.
Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited has told farmers not to plant paddy and sugarcane and stick to crops like ragi, jowar and pulses, which do not require more water.
JD(S) insiders allege that the Water Resource Department’s orders were meant to coincide with Nikhil Kumaraswamy’s campaign of being the man to solve farmers’ troubles.