Gadag (Karnataka): With just 10 days to go for the May 5 Assembly polls, candidates in Shirahatti and Ron constituencies in North Karnataka are seen making a beeline for a tamarind tree considered by many to be a lucky charm as lore has it that none who spend time under it has lost.
The tamarind tree, known to be the refuge of discontented souls, has in this case brought luck for the candidates who sit under it. Or, at least, they believe so. The tree, situated near Hemareddi circle in Mundargi taluk of Gadag district, has far reaching fame and candidates flock here to share their plans with the villagers and seek their votes. Any leader who contests any election- from gram panchayat to assembly- makes it a point to visit the tree.
Legend has it that candidates who spend time here under the tree, popularly known as "MLA Katte" with a stone bench around it, with the voters always emerge victorious. This interesting saga of the tree began when SS Patil, a native of Kalkeri village contested the Assembly polls on a Janata Dal ticket in 1994 and won.
While campaigning Patil would sit under the tamarind tree and give a patient hearing to the villagers who would pour out their troubles to him. He would then offer his suggestions and advice over hot cups of "kullad chaha" and "Mirchi Bajjis" (pakoras made of spice-filled green chillies). He would even address public meetings from this platform.
Patil not only won the election but went on to replicate the success in the next three polls till 2004 making the tree indispensable for the candidates in the district.
In subsequent years, YN Gowda, Veerapaksha Gowda, Ravindra Uppinbetagiri and other leaders elected to the Town Municipal Council (TMC) made it a point to spend some time under the tree. According to Patil, the tree platform was the only place where he would sit for a chat and after his three successive victories, the tree earned the sobriquet of "MLA Katte".
The tree continued to be Patil's favourite even when he climbed up the ladder and became Cooperative Minister. Following the tradition started by Patil, candidates have been using this tree platform to address the villagers.
Ramakrishna Doddamani, Congress candidate from Shirahatti swears by the tree. "I came to this tree before the TMC election and won. Now for the Assembly polls, I make it a point to come here frequently in the fervent hope the tree will bless me and make me win".
Siddanna Hampannavar, a villager says the tree platform has become so famous that all candidates from Shirahatti and Ron come and sit here, hoping lady luck will smile on them.