India's first village 'free' from British Raj cries for development
"All parties give money. Whoever gives more, we will vote for them," says Prabhu S, a 48-year-old farmer from Esuru, expressing frustration over the lack of development in this tiny village which was the first in India to declare itself free from the British rule in 1942. Not only Prabhu, many other villagers in Esuru, are upset with the political parties Here's more.
In 1942, as the "Quit India" movement was taking shape, Esuru residents had refused to pay land-revenue as a natural calamity had caused a drop in agriculture yield. They strongly resisted the intimidatory tactics adopted by the British and fought pitched battles with police. Several freedom fighters from the village were martyred. On September 29, 1942, they declared the village "free" of British rule.
The villagers take pride in narrating stories of the courage displayed by their forefathers against the British, but Shivakumar, 53, a farmer who grows jowar and paddy, says, "All that is past legacy. Now there is no fighting spirit among villagers." "There is no unity. No one wants to raise public issues. Each one has alliance with one of the political parties," he says.
Taluk panchayat member Jayanna said he was fed up with the false assurances given by political parties that they would build "Smarak Bhavan" in the memory of leaders who gave their lives in 1942 bloody revolution.
Suvarnamma, 90, the first wife of late RS Shantaveerappa, who was one of those who fought against the British, says, "The whole village used to listen to my husband then, but now there is no mass leader who can take everyone together." Now, villagers are divided and they vote for whichever party appeases them. "Our family has been loyal to the Congress," she said
For the last three years, villagers are suffering due to deficient rainfall and a lack of irrigation facilities despite demanding that they be provided water from Tungabhadra river or from the nearby Anjanpura dam. To add to their woes, the farmers are not getting the minimum support price for jowar and paddy and the power supply is provided only for seven hours a day.
"The MSP purchasing centers did not open this year. We did not get the assured price for our produce. If we ask the state government, they say it is the BJP at Centre which is not procuring," Shiva Kumar says. "When Congress was at the Centre, the BJP in the state too said the same. They are fooling us, confusing people," he adds.