Devarakadu encroachment: Minister Appachu Ranjan’s vote bank politics and BJP’s defeat
Did vote bank politics by Kodagu in-charge minister Appachu Ranjan result in the defeat of the BJP in the recent elections to the urban local bodies in Kushalanagar and Somwarpet? More specifically, did Appachu’s move to provide house sites to migrants from a neighbouring state in the Basavanna Devara Kadu (sacred grove) in Valnur village led to alienation among the locals in his Madikeri Assembly constituency?
Appachu, the three-time MLA from Kodagu, has been losing his popularity in the recent years because of his vote bank politics, including for his role in forming a road through the Pushpagiri forest between Madikeri and Subramanya.
In the recent months, Appachu’s role in trying to provide sites to migrants at Basavanna Devara Kadu has made him unpopular among the original inhabitants of Kodagu after a concrete road was laid in the 320-acre sacred forest.
Angered by the development, the local villagers formed an outfit called Basavanna Devara Bana Samrakshana Trust and filed a public interest litigation petition which was admitted by the Karnataka High Court.
Dr Balladichanda C. Nanjappa, secretary of the Trust has blamed Appachu Ranjan for indulging in “vote bank politics” for trying to accommodate ‘outsiders’ to settle in the sacred forest.
After tasting success at Basavanna Devara Kadu, the Trust now wants to protect and preserve all the Devara Kadus in Kodagu, spread over 35,000 acres. The Trust has sought assistance from the public for safeguarding the sacred groves in Kodagu which were created by the forefathers to preserve virgin forests.
Appachu Ranjan has come up in politics from the grass-roots and he should not antagonise the local population by trying to woo the migrant population by indulging in blatant vote bank politics.