Mangaluru, Apr 05, 2018: Other than Bantwal and Mangaluru (Ullal), the ruling Congress this time has multiple contenders in the remaining six constituencies in Dakshina Kannada, albeit a few of them are said to be “dummy” candidates.
In all, 21 party workers have submitted applications to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) expressing their desire to contest the May 12 Assembly elections.
Ministers B. Ramanath Rai and U.T. Khader have remained unquestionable leaders in the party being the only applicants in their constituencies, Bantwal and Mangaluru, respectively. Mangaluru South has two contenders in incumbent MLA J.R. Lobo and City Corporation member M. Shashidhar Hegde, while Mangaluru North has incumbent MLA B.A. Mohiuddin Bava, Hegde, the former MLA, K. Vijaykumar Shetty and City Corporation member Purushottam Chitrapur as contenders.
District Congress president K. Harish Kumar too has filed an application to contest from Belthangady along with incumbent MLA K. Vasanth Bangera; but Kumar clarified that he has filed the application as a precautionary measure.
Puttur, represented by Shakuntala T. Shetty, has three contenders in Kavu Hemanath Shetty and Divyaprabha Chilladka along with Ms. Shetty. B. Raghu and Madikeri CMC member Nanda Kumar are the contenders from Sullia.
Incumbent MLA K. Abhayachandra, MLC Ivan D’Souza, the former Mayor Kavita Sanil, District Youth Congress president Mithun Rai and Ravi have sought ticket to contest from the Moodbidri seat, according to Harish Kumar.
Stakes are high in Moodbidri after MLA Abhayachandra initially announced his desire not to contest but only to withdraw his decision later. While he reportedly attempted to vacate the seat in favour of Mithun Rai, Abhayachandra’s move has now brought in many aspirants from within the party.
MLC Ivan D’Souza, who had lost the 2008 Assembly polls from Mangaluru South to BJP’s N. Yogish Bhat by 8,760 votes, is making every effort to enter the lower house from Moodbidri. Dismissing rumours that he has set an eye on Mangaluru South too, D’Souza generally has told he did not want to disturb any incumbent MLA.
“I submitted my application only for Moodbidri, that too after Abhayachandra announced his retirement,” he said.
While D’Souza is a confidant of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Ms. Sanil has the support of Ramanath Rai. Sources in the Congress, however, indicated that Some workers of the Congress blamed the top leaders for the delay in choosing the candidate for Karkala Assembly Constituency for the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Addressing media on April 4, Wednesday, Daniel Ranger, Congress party worker, said that the party high command should clear the confusion over the candidate for the Karkala Assembly seat.
The party workers had urged the high command to select the Congress leader, Muniyal Uday Shetty, as the party candidate as he had been strengthening the party from the grassroots level for the last two years, he said.
He said that Harsha Moily, son of the former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily, had stated that he would not contest from the seat. Gopal Bhandary, Congress leader and former MLA, too did not appear to have any inclination to contest from there.
After Harsha Moily left the fray, the leaders in charge of the party in Udupi district, G.A. Bawa and Bharat Mundodi, were nowhere to be seen.
“We want to fight the elections under the guidance of Mr. Veerappa Moily and Mr. Bhandary with Shetty as the candidate,” he said.
The Congress had not only lost the Karkala seat to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Assembly elections in 2013 but had also failed to win a single Zilla Panchayat seat in Karkala constituency in the subsequent Zilla Panchayat elections.
It had also lost all the 19 seats of the Karkala Taluk Panchayat to the BJP. As many as 26 gram panchayats in the constituency too were under BJP-supported candidates.
The Karkala Block Congress Committee had been lethargic in dealing with the situation, he said.
“All this make it necessary for the high command to announce the candidate in advance so that the party can be prepared and fare well in the Assembly elections,” he said.
The party workers had already sent an email in this regard to AICC president Rahul Gandhi and KPCC president G. Parameshwara, he said.
Asked if the workers were willing to campaign if the party declared Mr. Bhandary as the candidate, Mr. Ranger said that the workers would have to do it, but they all wanted Shetty as the candidate.
Taranath Kotian, Sheikh Shabbir, Valerian Pais, Ranjit C.T., Congress workers, were present.