Mangaluru Apr 10, 2018: Present MLA K. Vasanth Bangera of the Congress if given party ticket, it will be for the seventh time that the 73-year-old legislator will be contesting from Belthangady Assembly Constituency which has more than a thousand endosulfan victims.
With 1,291 endosulfan victims, Belthangady is the second constituency having the highest number of victims after Puttur which has 1,560 victims. Dakshina Kannada as a whole has 3,628 victims due to the spray of endosulfan pesticide on cashewnut plantations decades ago.
Kokkada in the constituency has a day care centre for victims set up by the government in 2011. The victims with disability between 25 % and 60 % are getting a stipend of Rs. 1,500 per month and those with more than 60 % disability are getting Rs. 3,000 per month. In all, 59 bed-ridden victims in the constituency are getting treatment from mobile treatment units.
The Election Commission has stated that it will make special arrangements for the physically challenged persons to reach the polling stations to cast their votes in this election.
However, the endosulfan victims are having second thoughts on casting their votes. Sridhar Kokkada, convener, Endo Virodhi Horata Samithi, said that the government has not set up a permanent rehabilitation centre for bed-ridden victims as demanded by them. Hence, the victims are meeting on April 18 to discuss whether they should boycott the election or not.
On the other hand, residents in Banjarumale tribal area on the Charmadi belt also have threatened that they would boycott the election as they have not been given any infrastructure facilities.
A party hopper, MLA Bangera has been elected to the Assembly from the constituency five times. He won on BJP ticket in 1983 and in 1985, on Janata Dal ticket in 1994 and on Congress ticket in 2008 and in 2013. In the last Assembly election, Mr. Bangera defeated Ranjan Gowda of the BJP, who is the son of two-time MLA K. Gangadhara Gowda, who was earlier with the Congress and joined the BJP before the last Assembly election.
MLA Bangera had lost the election in 1989 as an Independent candidate to Mr. Gangadhara Gowda of the Congress. Mr. Vasanth Bangera defeated his brother K. Prabhakara Bangera of the BJP in 1994.
MLA Bangera and K. Harish Kumar, president, District Congress Committee, have applied for party ticket.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is facing internal trouble, expelled B.M. Bhat, its candidate from the constituency in 2013, recently along with 13 office-bearers of the Belthangady taluk unit. The CPI(M) has said that it would not field any candidate in this election.