In less than a week from now, Karnataka goes to polls to elect the next Government to power. In Kodagu, the election has captured the imagination of all sections of Society especially with candidates from most parties not being sure of their nominations until the very last minute. Politics has become the favourite topic of discussion at all social gatherings so much so that it has put bad prices for coffee and pepper to the background for the moment.
Almost all parties seem to be fighting this election based on the charisma and capabilities of their National leaders. The common ground cutting across party lines seems to be about voting right for the greater good of the Country. However, as a voter, I must say that I am disappointed that not one of the candidates for the 2 seats in Kodagu has shown any inclination to fight the elections on local issues or even sat down with the electorate to understand and prepare a manifesto that reflects the needs and aspirations of their electorate. The electorate is again being hoodwinked into "voting responsibly" for the betterment of the Country but at the cost of their land and future.
The issues that we face in Coorg are many; Large scale Deforestation, sand mafia, timber mafia, illegal land conversions, Linear development projects such as railways and highways under the garb of development, exploitative tourism etc are sounding the death knell of this district. Culturally too, the way of life of the Kodavas and other indigenous communities of Kodagu are being threatened by divisive appeasement politics. Added to this, the district is besieged with the total lack of proper medical facilities and public infrastructure, very bad internet connectivity etc. Yet, our Politicians are busy indulging in petty politics at the cost of the future of the district and its people.
It saddens me to see that no politician worth his salt has spoken out on these issues or tried to address them on their own free will. Our Politicians have only spoken about these issues when they have been pushed against the wall or when they have been called to address a gathering, They have used people and these issues to create a platform for themselves without doing anything to address the actual issue or taking up the matter with their political masters. Unfortunately, Kodagu is faced with a problem of a dearth of good leaders. Petty politics and the greed for money and power have made our politicians blind to the actual reality.
For a long time, it was generally believed that the Kodavas or rather the people of Kodagu are just arm chair activists and just cannot come together. However, the last one year has seen a tremendous change in Kodagu. The protests against the proposed railway line and highways in Kodagu and the recent huge gathering in Mysore showed that people are not going to take things lying down. People from all sections of Society are starting to question the powers to be and I would like to believe that this is the first step towards ensuring that we protect our interests.
Whatever change that is taking place in Kodagu is happening despite the system. Voluntary Citizen initiatives is what is starting to create and drive the change. Be it cleaning campaigns, installations of dustbins and segregation or questioning illegal activities or even going to court or meeting bureaucrats and Government representatives to oppose projects that threaten the fragile ecological balance of the district, it is the assertiveness of a few like minded individuals that is driving that change.
It is true that we the people of Kodagu have been indifferent to what has been happening around us. As long as one was not directly affected, it did not matter to a lot of us. Even today, we seem to continue on the same lines. However, I must say that the times, they sure are changing. Today, we seem to be connecting back to our roots and thanks to social media, the acts of a few good men and women is inspiring others to get their hands dirty. And this inspiration is what we need to sow the seeds of that big change that we are looking at.
We need to accept the fact that with just 2 MLA seats, we do not matter to the fortunes of any political party in the State. But every single vote of ours matters to the 2 MLA's who will represent us. We are not in a position today to choose a leader that is worthy of representing us. But we definitely are in a position today to ensure that we will be taken seriously in the future.
Hence, no matter which party we support or what our ideology at the moment is, we need to ensure that we go out and VOTE. OUR TIME IS NOW!
If people don't vote, everything stays the same. You can protest until the sky turns yellow or the moon turns blue, and it's not going to change anything if you don't vote- Dolores Huerta (American labor leader and civil rights activist)