Udupi, June 20, 2018: The publication of draft reservation list for municipal wards in the Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) signals, the BJP and the Congress have begun preparations for CMC elections, to be held before September.
In the 2013 CMC polls, the Congress won 23 seats in a House with a total strength of 35 and came to power after about 45 years, with the BJP getting 12 seats, and one seat going to an Independent.
The Udupi Town Municipal Council came into existence in 1935 and was upgraded to a CMC in 1995. The BJP and its earlier avatar, Bharatiya Jan Sangh, had an uninterrupted reign in Udupi municipality from 1968 to 2013 barring a brief period (1997-2001) when the Congress supported Independent candidates were in power.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, K. Raghupati Bhat of the BJP won the Udupi Assembly Constituency by a margin of 12,044 votes.
“Our party led in 31 out of the 35 wards in the Assembly elections. This, coupled with the poor governance of the Congress in the CMC, gives us an edge,” said Herga Dinakar Shetty, BJP municipal councillor.
However, Ramesh Kanchan, Congress councillor, said that people voted more for the candidate during the CMC elections.
“We have given good administration in the last five years and this should hold us in good stead,” he said.
But the draft reservation has jolted some councillors of both the parties. According to Shetty, the reservation of seven wards held by the BJP had changed.
Kanchan said that the reservation of nine wards held by the Congress had also changed.
“The advantage for a councillor getting the same ward is that he is in touch with his people and can show his works. He can shift to neighbouring wards if he wants to contest, as per reservation,” according to Shetty.
“But this creates a problem; there will be candidates from that ward and they may resent a candidate from another ward,” said Kanchan.
Meanwhile, some persons have already filed their objections to the draft reservation list.
The final reservation list is expected in the first week of July. “We are giving importance to voter enrolment in all the wards. The last date for enrolment is June 27,” said Raghavendra Kini, BJP leader.
For both the BJP and the Congress, the Udupi CMC elections will be a prestige battle.
The Congress will try to retain it after its defeat in the Assembly polls in the Udupi Assembly seat, while the BJP will try to regain it to consolidate its power, making it a battle worth watching.