The Hethenahalli Adishakthi Maramma temple is again in discussion in this high-profile constituency, from where JD(S) chief and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda is contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, as the shrine served as a "guarantee" for the candidates who had indulged in the "note-for-votes" scam in the 2018 Karnataka Assembly election.
Regarded as one of the most sacred temples in the region, people consider it almost blasphemous taking a false oath here.
According to the locals, nominees of various political parties had offered Rs 2,000 per family to vote for them in 2018, but the voters were also given a picture of goddess Durga, along with the money, on which they were asked to swear that they would vote for a particular candidate.
Many people in this village, located at a distance of nine kilometres from Tumkur city, are expecting a repeat of the 2018 story in the general election.
"The temple was built in 1235 and it is famous for curing small pox. Those with devotion always have their prayers answered. Politicians of late have started exploiting people's faith in the temple," the 72-year-old priest, Marianna, told PTI.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, the political parties had exploited people's faith by bringing them here and making them take a vow to vote for them. Later, they were also paid some money, Hethanahalli gram panchayat member Ravindra Gowda said.
The vow ensured that they would not vote for anyone else after taking money from a particular candidate, he added.
The 13th-century temple is known as a wish-granting shrine and its presiding goddess, Adhishakti Durga, is revered by thousands of devotees around Tumkur, Bengaluru Rural and Chikkaballapur districts.
Such is the belief of the people in the goddess that they are scared to break any promise made before her.
As the polling date nears, locals say it is likely that the tactic to exploit their faith in the temple may be employed again given the fact that many JD(S) leaders believe in vaastu, astrology and other spiritual and religious rituals.
It is believed that farmers were travelling in a bullock cart from Mysore through a forest (now Hethenahalli) without realising that goddess Durga had hitched a ride in disguise.
As it got dark, the farmers decided to take rest at a place and cook in a makeshift three-stone cooking fire. Suddenly, the fire got doused, the oxen collapsed and the goddess appeared. She said she would reside here and subsequently, the temple was built.
The Tumkur Lok Sabha constituency is set to witness a tough poll contest between Deve Gowda, who vacated the Hassan seat and moved here, and the BJP's GS Basavaraju.
Since prestige is involved in the electoral battle, the locals feel that either of the two candidates is likely to distribute money among voters, but not before seeking the blessings of Adhishakti Durga at the Hethenahalli Adishakthi Maramma temple.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)