Mangalore, April 27, 2013: The poll fever is picking up in Dakshina Kannada district. With the recent ULB election results considered to be a precursor to what is in store for the May 5 Assembly elections, there is much speculation all over.
The Assembly elections are being held even as the ULB election results are debated upon. The Dakshina Kannada district which was considered the traditional forte of the Congress, for the first time lost some hold over the district in the 2008 elections when it won only from four constituencies, while the BJP managed to wrest the remaining four.
If one goes by history, it has been more or less a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP in DK district, while other parties have failed to make much impact . The contest is interesting this time more so with the general observation that there was a pro-Congress and anti-BJP wave in the district, going by the ULB election results.
The battle-lines are drawn- It is JR Lobo v/s Yogish Bhat in Mangalore South and Moidin Bava v/s Krishna Palemar from Mangalore North, two prestigious constituencies in Dakshina Kannada district. The upcoming Assembly elections -2013 is all set to see some close contests, interesting battles and keen tussles.
The Congress which has been claiming that there is anti-incumbency wave in the state, wants to cash in on it. Most interesting of all is that it has chosen to field minority community candidates from Mangalore, Mangalore South and Mangalore North, as last time. The only difference this time is that instead of Ivan D’Souza, it is former bureaucrat JR Lobo in Mangalore South. UT Khader, sitting MLA and Moidin Bava, the defeated candidate of last time, have been given tickets again. Will Congress be able to wrest Mangalore South and Mangalore North from the BJP or will the saffron flag fly high again?
Mangalore South-JR Lobo v/s Yogish Bhat: This prestigious assembly constituency of the state has seen Congress reign supreme till 1983.It was V Dhananjaya Kumar, then in the BJP, who put a brake to the winning spree of the Congress. However in the 1985 and 1989 elections Blasius D’Souza of the Congress won from here. From then on it was a winning stint for Yogish Bhat of the BJP in four elections and this time the BJP has given Yogish Bhat another chance, despite complaints that he hasn’t been able to do much during his long stint. The Congress on the other hand has chosen new entrant and former bureaucrat JR Lobo who is expected to give a tough fight to the BJP candidate this time. The Congress is also concentrating on its traditional Christian vote bank in Mangalore South and is exuding confidence of a win. Mangalore has a Christian population of 42,000. Though the Billawa population exceeds the Christian population and stands at 49,000, still neither the Congress nor the BJP has given a Billawa candidate a chance from here.
Yet another interesting aspect is that the winning candidates in almost all elections from this constituency were Konkani speaking people while the main contestants were also Konkani speaking candidates. The Congress has won from here seven times, while the BJP has recorded a win five times.
The fact is that since the past 20 years, it was the BJP which won from here banking on the internal bickering of the Congress. After Blasius who won from here for two terms, the Congress has been facing a tough task in selecting a candidate.This time it has chosen Lobo who is confident of making it, while BJP’s Yogish Bhat too is equally confident. Can Lobo break the winning spree of the BJP or will it be Yogish Bhat for the fifth time?
Mangalore North –Palemar v/s Moidin Bava: The BJP has chosen sitting MLA and the influential former minister and real estate businessmen Krishna Palemar, who was earlier named an accused in the blue film scandal that rocked the assembly.. He will face Moidin Bava of the Congress, also a real estate businessman, who is a second time contestant who lost at the hands of Palemar last time. The selection of Bava has created trouble for the Congress with the loyalists of another aspirant and former MLA Vijaykumar Shetty almost up in arms against the party and demanding their leader to contest as an independent.
In the previous Assembly elections Palemar had won by a margin of 12,426 votes against Bava.
Interestingly, winning candidates from here have attained top posts. B Subbayya Shetty who won from here from the Congress in 1972 and J Krishna Palemar have been ministers. Palemar has registered two successive wins from here in the 2004 and 2008 elections and if Palemar wins this time, it would be a hatrick for him.
Mangalore Constituency: Mangalore Constituency (erstwhile Ullal) with a majority Muslim population, is the traditional forte of the Congress. Except for CPI candidate A Krishna Shetty who won from here in 1962 and BJP candidate Jayaram Shetty in 1994 elections, it were the Congress candidates who have registered victory from here. This is the third time that the constituency is seeing UT Khader of the Congress as its candidate against Chandrahas Ullal of the BJP. A victory this time would ensure a third successive win for Khader.
Perhaps, this is the only constituency in the state where a son has represented the constituency after the demise of this father. UT Khader’s father UT Fareed was selected an MLA from here in 1972, 1978, 1999 and 2004. This is also the constituency which had elected the poet politician BM Idinabba of the Congress for two terms.
Bantwal –Rai v/s Naik: The Bantwal constituency will this time see an interesting battle between sitting MLA and DCC President Ramanatha Rai and BJP’s Rajesh Naik, who is a new face. Already Ramanatha Rai has created a record with five wins except in the 2004 elections when he lost to Nagaraj Shetty. In the 2008 elections Rai had defeated B Nagaraj Shetty of the BJP. Shetty who had last year defected to the JD(S) is back in the BJP fold again. Ramanath Rai who won the elections last time by a margin of 1251 votes, is confident of winning by a huge margin this time and thereby create a new record.
Puttur -The Shakuntala factor: This prestigious constituency which was once represented by former CM DV Sadananda Gowda and presently having BJP MLA Mallika Prasad, will see a keen contest. The Congress has pitted new entrant and former BJP MLA Shakuntala Shetty from this constituency against Sanjeeva Matandaoor of the BJP. Shaku, a popular politician of the region had remained in political oblivion after her defeat in the previous assembly polls when she contested as a rebel candidate under the banner of Swabhimani Vedike of her political mentor Ram Bhat. Shaku who joined the Congress just when the assembly elections were announced, is widely believed to be a winning candidate from this constituency, though there is some resentment in a section of the Congress against granting a ticket to new entrant. The BJP has been winning this constituency since 1994. Will Shaku magic work this time or will the BJP able to regain its hold on this prestigious constituency?
As for the rest of the constituencies, Moodbidri will see a battle between sitting MLA Abhayachandra Jain and BJP’s Umanath Kotian who also happens to be the Tulu Academy President.The BJP has fielded sitting MLA S Angara from Sullia while it is Dr Raghu from the Congress.
Belthangady Battle: Sitting Congress MLA and four-timer Vasanth Bangera is the candidate even this time from Belthangady and he will face Ranjan Gowda of the BJP. Bangera had won on a BJP ticket in 1983 and 1995 elections. He had won the 1994 and 2008 elections on the JD(S) and Congress tickets respectively. A noteworthy aspect is that Bangera had faced Ranjan Gowda’s father Gangadhar Gowda exactly three decades ago in the 1983 and 1989 elections. However, then Gangadhar Gowda was in the Congress and Bangera in the BJP while now both are in the opposition camps.
Udupi - Rattled by Controversy ahead of polls
The Udupi constituency witnessed an unprecedented political development ahead of the selection of candidates when a sleaze video allegedly involving the sitting Udupi MLA Raghupathi Bhat surfaced. Bhat who was a strong contender had to backtrack following the controversy and give way for Sudhaker Shetty, former UDA Chairman. The Congress has pitted Block Congress President Pramod Madhwaraj from here. Sitting MLA Bhat has won from here in 2004 and 2008 elections, thus breaking the stronghold of the Congress over this constituency.
The BJP has fielded sitting MLA Lalaji Mendon from Kaup, Sukumar Shetty from Byndoor and V Sunil Kumar, former MLA from Karkala. The Congress has MLA Gopal Bhandari from Karkala and K Gopal Poojari from Byndoor.
Trouble brews in Kaup: Kaup, one of the prominent constituencies of Udupi district, will see a keen tussle between two stalwarts of the Congress and the BJP. It is Vinaykumar Sorake of Congress against Lalaji Mendon here. The Congress chose Sorake in a highly calculated move. Though he was earlier projected as the likely candidate from Puttur, the party ultimately decided to have him in Kaup, despite opposition from the Udupi MP Jayaprakash Hegde. Noteworthily Kaup had several strong aspirants including former minister Vasanth Salian who is now decided to contest as a rebel.
‘Independent’ Halady: Kundapur will see an interesting battle this time as former BJP MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty is contesting from this constituency this time as an independent. It is believed several BJP men too are backing this leader who was ‘hurt’ and first quit his legislatorship and then the BJP for ditching him after promising a berth in Shettar cabinet. The BJP has fielded Kishore Kumar and the Congress Malady Shivaram Shetty against Halady.