Karkala, Apr 11, 2018 : Located at the foothills of the Western Ghats, Karkala Assembly constituency is famous for its pilgrim centres for Hindus, Jains and Christians. These include the 42-foot statue of Bahubali, Ananthashayana temple in Karkala, and St. Lawrence Basilica in Attur.
The constituency has given the State a Chief Minister in the form of M. Veerappa Moily. In fact, Mr. Moily won from Karkala constituency six consecutive times — in 1972, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1989 and 1994 — as a Congress candidate. But it was also in this constituency that the first police encounter with Naxalites in Udupi district took place, in Eedu village on November 17, 2003. That resulted in the death of two suspected Naxals.
Widening of roads, parking problems, development of Town Hall, lack of a proper underground drainage system, delays in construction of Town Hall in Karkala town, potential for developing tourist destinations, destruction of crops by wild animals in rural areas, and opposition to the K. Kasturirangan report for conservation of the Western Ghats are some of the issues in the constituency.
Of the 13 Assembly elections held in the constituency since 1957, the Congress has won nine times, while the BJP has won twice. The Praja Socialist Party (PSP) and the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (earlier avatar of the BJP) have each won once.
In the 1999 Assembly elections, Mr. Moily’s protégé H. Gopal Bhandary won by a huge margin of 20,734 votes by defeating K.P. Shenoy of the BJP. The BJP returned the favour when its candidate and the then State convener of Bajrang Dal, V. Sunil Kumar, defeated Mr. Bhandary by 9,795 votes in the 2004 elections.
But the Congress had its revenge when Mr. Bhandary defeated Mr. Kumar by a narrow margin of 1,537 votes in a straight fight in the 2008 Assembly elections. In 2013, the BJP turned the tables when Mr. Kumar defeated Mr. Bhandary for a second time, this time by a margin of 4,254 votes.
While the BJP has announced Mr. Kumar, who was its chief whip in the outgoing State Assembly, as its candidate, the Congress is still searching for the right candidate.
Though Harsha Moily, son of Mr. Veerappa Moily, the Chickballapur MP, was in the race for the Congress ticket at the beginning, he withdrew following a Twitter controversy. This has left Mr. Bhandary and Muniyal Udaykumar Shetty, vice-president of the Udupi District Congress Committee, to battle it out for the party’s ticket in the constituency.