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Cliffhanger of a contest in the offing in Udupi

Cliffhanger of a contest in the offing in Udupi


Mangalore Today News Network/ DHNS

Udupi/Kundapur, MAR 15, 2012: Clean image of candidate plus point for Cong; ruling party status may help BJP; JD(S) likely to tilt balance

With just two days left for the prestigious Udupi-Chikmagalur bypoll, perhaps the last bypoll before the next Assembly elections, all pClean image of candidate plus point for Cong; ruling party status may help BJP; JD(S) likely to tilt balance arties are trying their level best to woo the voters – from the wee hours till late night.

Congress leaders very well know that if they fail to make it this time, perhaps they will never in the near future, as seven out of eight Assembly constituencies are with the BJP (except Karkala, BJP candidate Sunil Kumar’s home constituency) and both ZPs are dominated by the BJP.

Hence, almost all top Congress leaders are camping in the region and sweating it out hoping to regain their glorious past. It’s a question of prestige for Oscar Fernandes, who had won the seat in a row five times (1980, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996).


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On the other hand, BJP seems to be overconfident as it is the ruling party in the State and almost all MLAs, ZP, TP seats are with it. Since it is a prestige issue for Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda (with BSY refusing to campaign) as well, he has been visiting/campaigning in the region almost every alternate day.

The JD(S) too is ‘hopeful’ of its victory. Both H D Kumaraswamy and H D Deve Gowda are trying to cover as many areas as possible in the available time. Unfortunately, many are not familiar with JD(S) candidate S L Bhoje Gowda in the coastal region, though there are many supporters for JD(S) in Tarikere and Sakarayapatna, courtesy Deve Gowda.

However, Kumaraswamy is trying his best to woo the voters.

Quite interestingly, all the three candidates are confident of their votebank in the coastal region (as their party sources claim).

Hence, the candidates are ‘concentrating’ in the four Assembly constituencies of Chikmagalur. Whether the candidates come to coastal region or not, they have made it a point to cover as many areas in Chikmagalur as possible.

Caste factor

Caste factor too seems to be playing a major role in this bypoll. According to an estimate, there are nearly 2.5 lakh dalit voters and nearly one lakh Lingayat voters. Since there is no dalit candidate and Yeddyurappa has refused to campaign, all three parties are trying their best to woo these 3.5 lakh voters (out of a total of 12.53 lakh voters).

Another interesting point is that the Congress leaders/workers are seen in the field. This time they have roped in leaders belonging to different castes and their task is to meet people belonging to their particular caste, listen to their problems and chalk out plans.

For example, an SC/Billava/Bunt/Devadiga/Vishwakarma/Kshatriya/Muslim/GSB/Brahmin leader of the Congress will meet voters belonging to that particular community, a strategy synonymous with BJP.

The rift between SCDCC Bank Chairman Rajendra Kumar and Udupi MLA Raghupathy Bhat too is likely to affect the BJP as the Navodaya SHG has more than 60,000 voters.

Though many people in Kundapur (Bunts as well as Billavas) are in a confused state (or pretend to be so) as they support both BJP MLA Haladi Srinivas Shetty and Congress candidate Jayaprakash Hegde. A few opined it would have been a different scene if Shetty was contesting.

Though a few BJP leaders claim the party’s victory to be a cakewalk as they hold all key posts in the constituency, the Congress leaders have a different argument. “When BJP won the elections, many things were in their favour. But things are no longer the same.

Be it the scams (porngate, alleged rave party in Malpe) or the personal image of the candidate, BJP has more negatives than positives.

There is another group of ‘educated’ people who think that when the UPA is in power at the Centre, what is the point in electing a BJP candidate?

Narrow margin

Going by the statistics of previous elections, the margin of victory is likely to be narrow. Be it the 2004 elections or the 2009 elections, the JD(S)/Third Front played the spoilsport.

In 2004 elections, Manorama Madhwaraj (BJP) polled 3,69,627 votes, Vinaykumar Sorake (Cong) polled 3,40,624 votes and Tharanath Shetty (JDS) secured 45,574 votes. The winning margin was only 29,003 votes.

In the 2009 elections, Sadananda Gowda (BJP) polled 4,01,441 votes, Jayaprakash Hegde (Cong) polled 3,74,423 votes, Third Front candidate Radha Sundaresh (CPI) secured 24,991 votes and Stephen Menezes (BSP) managed to get 9,971 votes. The winning margin was only 27,018 votes.

Going by this calculation, if JD(S) manages to get even 30,000 to 40,000 votes, it may affect the prospects of the Congress as well as the BJP. At the same time, going by the personal image, Sunil Kumar has not succeeded in impressing even the BJP supporters and a few party workers, whereas Jayaprakash Hegde has a better image than any other contestant.

Be it in Karkala or Hebri (Sunil Kumar’s constituency), a few BJP supporters said they were not happy with the functioning of Kumar in the previous term. But they did not say they will vote for Congress either.

Similar is the case with people in Kundapur and Kapu. The cross section of people whom this correspondent met said they will vote for Haladi’s (Bunt) party or Mendon’s (Mogaveera) party.

As Congress has left no stone unturned, as they have considered it a prestige issue and as they are trying to reach every household (hitherto BJP strategy), they seem to have a better chance.

Though the Congress seems to have an edge over BJP in the coastal district despite BJP having three MLAs (out of four), it may not be surprising if BJP retains the seat with the help of JD(S) votes, especially in Chikmagalur.

It is true that Congress candidate Jayaprakash Hegde has a clean image; was in touch with the public in Chikmagalur as well as Udupi even after he lost the polls, but the fact remains that BJP is the ruling party. In many cases, the ruling party can create ‘wonders’ by hook or crook.

K Jayaprakash Hegde (Congress)

Born at Korgi in Kundapur taluk on October 16, 1952, Jayaprakash Hegde holds BA, LLB degrees and is an advocate by profession. He is the son of Chandrashekar Hegde, a retired district and sessions judge and Registrar of the High Court of Karnataka. A soft-spoken and popular leader in the region, Hegde won the Assembly elections in 1994 on a JD(S) ticket and went on to become Ports and Fisheries Minister in the J H Patel government between 1994 and 1998.

Later, he contested as an independent candidate and won the 1999 and 2004 Assembly elections, but lost to Haladi Srinivas Shetty in the 2008 elections. The very next year, he unsuccessfully contested against D V Sadananda Gowda in the parliamentary elections.

Sunil Kumar (BJP)

Born to M K Vasudeva and Pramoda on August 17, 1975, he did his early schooling at Pulkeri in Karkala, high school and PU in Shimoga and BA degree at Sagar in Shimoga.

An ABVP activist since his school days, he was very active in the Dattapeetha movement of 1997 as the Bajrang Dal convenor, which helped him get a BJP ticket to contest the 2004 Assembly elections from Karkala. He defeated Gopal Bhandary of the Congress by a margin of over 20,000 votes, but lost to Bhandary in the 2008 elections by 1,532 votes.

He married a former MLA’s daughter at a mass marriage ceremony.

S L Bhoje Gowda (JD-S)

Born in Chikmagalur on July 20, 1957, Bhoje Gowda is the son of three-time MLA S R Lakshmaiah. An advocate by profession, he holds BSc, LLB degrees. A former CMC president and president of DCC Bank in Chikmagalur, presently he is the president of the district unit of JD(S). He lost to C T Ravi in the 2008 elections. He had also contested the 2004 elections, but could not make it.

Sidelights

* This is only the second time the constituency is facing a byelection – First time to help then prime minister Indira Gandhi and this time to fill the seat vacated by Sadananda Gowda, who went on to become chief minister

* Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency is the biggest parliamentary constituency in Karnataka with an area of 391 sq km

* All candidates belonging to the three major parties (Congress, BJP, JD-S) are ‘experienced’ as they have lost the previous elections in which they contested. While Congress candidate Jayaprakash Hegde lost Lok Sabha elections in 2009 (to Sadananda Gowda), BJP candidate Sunil Kumar lost MLA election in 2008 (to H Gopal Bhandary) and JD(S) candidate S L Bhoje Gowda lost MLA election in 2008 (to C T Ravi).

* The constituency boasts of two major seats of Hindu philosophies – Krishna temple in Udupi, the seat of the founder of Dwaita philosophy Madhwacharya and Sharada temple in Sringeri, the seat of Shankaracharya, who propagated ‘Adwaita’ philosophy.

* There are a total of 12,53,580 voters (6,11,296 males and 6,42,284 females) in Udupi-Chikmagalur parliamentary constituency. While Udupi (comprising Kundapur, Udupi, Kapu and Karkala Assembly constituencies) has 6,31,484 voters, Chikmagalur (comprising Sringeri, Mudigere, Chikmagalur and Tarikere Assembly constituencies) has 6,22,096 voters.

* A number of Congress voters said they would vote for the candidate, while the BJP voters said they would vote for the party. A JD(S) voter said he would vote for JD(S) because it was Ramakrishna Hegde’s party.

Courtesy: DHNS


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