Rebel MLAs in Karnataka face backlash in flood-affected districts

A view of a flooded area following incessant monsoon rainfall in Hampi. Photo: PTI.

The resignation of 15 rebel MLAs in Karnataka that led to the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, has only worsened the situation for the people of the state.

At least seven Assembly segments—Gokak, Yellapura, Maski, Athani Hirekerur, Vijayanagara, and Hunsur from where the MLAs resigned, now face severe floods.

Incessant rains over the past week ravaged houses and standing crops in many of these places. People have lost their livelihood and are moved to shelter homes as a rescue measure. Around 54 people have died across the state in various flood-related incidents.

Their resignations not only stalled the Assembly sessions, but it also led to a crisis in the state where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party failed to form a ministry even after 18 days. People say that some of the resigned MLAs did not even visit the flooded areas.

“Who should we go and air our concerns to? There’s neither an MLA nor a minister. And the resigned MLA (Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress) does not even have the basic courtesy to visit the flooded areas,” says Kamalavva Muragundi from Halayal village panchayat in Athani, Belagavi district.

Also read: 234 dead, 20 lakh displaced as four states reel under floods

“Just the district officials are coordinating. But will they able to push for speedy approval and release of the flood relief funds? What is the point when they can’t be helpful in crisis times like this?” she adds.

Muragundi says her house got damaged in the floods and she lost the sugarcane crops which was the only means of income for her family.

Kumathalli, however, refuted the allegations. The MLA said he was spending the same amount of time as he was while being an MLA and was now coordinating with the DCs for the speedy setup of relief camps.

Belagavi, the district he hails from is the worst affected district this year. Besides the incessant rains, with Maharashtra having more water than the state could handle, several villages were marooned in the floodwater. About 13 people lost their lives while four are missing, and 50,800 families have been evacuated, according to the district commissioner of Belagavi.

“We fought with Maharashtra when we faced drought. And we are now pushing the BJP to release relief funds faster. We are working with the same zeal,” Kumathalli said.

Also read: Karnataka drowning in flood, yet no sign of BJP ministry in the state

Yellapura MLA Shivaram Hebbar spoke along the same lines and said they were coordinating with the district officials to ensure that the relief material reaches the villagers and that they were not sitting idle.

“Being in power is not a constant thing. I have worked for my constituency even when we lost elections. And these ups and downs in politics will not affect our political image as people still believe in us,” Hebbar says.

The JD(S) leaders hit out at the BJP for not arranging helicopters to evacuate flood-affected people but arranged private jets to ferry rebel MLAs to Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Ramesh Jarkiholi’s (MLA from Gokak who resigned) family member Balachandra Jarkiholi, a BJP MLA from Arabhavi constituency, told people that it was their responsibility to provide shelter and that if the government fails, then they would topple the BJP government.