Miffed by the apathy of the central government, a group of flood-affected people in Karnataka’s Belagavi district held a unique protest in the last two days. Outside the deputy commissioner's office, they held a mock auction of old footwear and started selling them in the name of politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The protests were organised by Kannada activists and social organisations that said they will send Rs 69 collected as part of the auction to the government as a mark of protest over the lack of relief materials and funds during and after the floods in the district.
Belagavi was the worst affected district in the state among the 22 other districts that were affected.
According to Nolan Pinto of India Today, a shoe, which represented the PM, was auctioned at a starting price of Rs 1. It was later bought by a local farmer group for Rs 5.
“We named the old footwear after our elected representatives, including Deputy Chief Ministers Laxman Savadi and Govind Karajol, who hail from North Karnataka. We will send the money raised from the auction to the government as it claims to have no funds for us. It has failed to announce compensation for the flood victims although Belagavi alone contributes taxes of up to Rs 6,000 crore every year,” farmers’ leader Chunappa Pujeri was quoted by Deccan Chronicle.
Others who were targetted were Members of Parliament Pralhad Joshi, Suresh Angadi, former minister Ananthakumar Hegde and MP Shobha Karandlaje.
Speaking on the same issue earlier on Sunday, Ashok Chandargi, president of the Kannada Organisations Action Committee in Belagavi, said, “We have elected 25 BJP MPs from the state. Why didn’t none of them try to sort the issue out? The CM even went to Delhi, and even then no funds have been released. Why is this happening?”
He urged the union government to at last provide some interim relief in the form of 50% of the estimated losses incurred due to the floods. He had also suggested that people will die of starvation as there has already been one such death in the district.
The floods killed 82 people and caused a loss of Rs 30,000 crore. This includes damage to a total of 2.3 lakh houses and displaced 7 lakh people from their houses.