Twin districts hit a political jackpot

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MANGALORE, May 19: The twin districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi have hit a political jackpot by grabbing four berths in the Siddaramaiah ministry — three of them as Cabinet ministers.

Three of them — U.T. Khader, B. Ramanatha Rai and K. Abahayachandra Jain — are from Dakshina Kannada, and Vinay Kumar Sorake is from Udupi. Barring Bangalore, only Dakshina Kannada boasts of giving three or more ministers to the State.

It appears the three legislators from Dakshina Kannada have been rewarded for keeping the Congress flag afloat in the region, where the BJP has tried its politics of militant Hindutva agenda. In Dakshina Kannada, the three MLAs have won their seats for more than three times at a time when it was increasingly becoming a BJP citadel. The undivided district was a bastion of the Congress till 1980s.

The entry of the four men — U.T. Khader, B. Ramanatha Rai, K. Abahayachandra Jain and Vinay Kumar Sorake — to the State’s Cabinet from the twin district is expected to fill the vacuum of political leadership that was created in the aftermath of the demise of BJP strongman

V.S. Acharya. While Mr. Rai, who has won from the Bantwal constituency six times and has previously held portfolios of Home and Transport, had been the frontrunner for a ministership, Mr. Khader is believed to have got a berth in the Siddaramaiah Ministry under the quota for minorities.

Mr. Jain, who won the Moodbidri constituency for the fourth time, is the lone minister representing the Jain community. An oddity, however, is thatMr. Jain is accommodated as Minister of State while Mr. Khader — much junior to him — got the cabinet rank. Mr. Jain has served as whip in the Legislative Assembly.

The Congress appears to have prepared the ground for wresting Mangalore Lok Sabha seat in 2014 by accommodating three MLAs from the region. The party, which tasted success in Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha bye-elections by defeating the BJP nominee, is also buoyed by the success in the urban local body elections. It wrested both Mangalore City Corporation and Udupi City Municipal Council from the BJP.

The people, who voted the party to get rid of the BJP’s misrule, expect that the leaders will transcend the newfound clout into development of the region. In the two districts, the Congress got 1.86 lakh more votes in 2013 than what it got in 2008.

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