Photo finish likely in Udupi-C’magalur

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Chikmagalur/Udupi: Geographically being the largest parliamentary constituency in the State, Udupi-Chikmagalur is a fusion of coastal belt with Western Ghats and Malnad areas, spread over about 450 km.

Unlike many constituencies, the problems and issues of Udupi and Chikmagalur are distinct.

While issues like Inam land, Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, confusion over implementation of Kasturirangan report and coffee growers’ woes among others dominate in Chikmagalur district, confusion over ban on arecanut, failure to encash tourism development opportunities and fishermen’s woes dominate in Udupi district.

Maoists’ problem, Bababudanagiri and Dattapeetha are no more an issue during this election.

Star visits

Already political bigwigs and who’s who, including Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Brinda Karat besides Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former chief ministers B S Yeddyurappa and H D Deve Gowda among others, have campaigned for their respective candidates. However, many ‘experts’ are yet to feel the pulse of the people.

While Congress candidate K Jayaprakash Hegde seems to be a favourite in the coastal region, BJP’s Shobha Karandlaje seems to be banking on Modi as well as Yeddyurappa wave. A significant number of voters, especially Lingayats, still prefer Yeddyurappa to others in Chikmagalur region.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Hegde, who was campaigning at Balehole near Kalasa, said though he got an opportunity to serve the people only for about 20 months, he has done his best in the limited period and responded to people’s woes.

In fact, a number of people, whom this correspondent met had a word of appreciation for the politician with a ‘clean image.’

On the other hand, Karandlaje, who was busy campaigning at N R Pura, said the Congress has failed to effectively address the problems of the people. To a query on the general allegation that she seeks vote for Modi rather than herself, Karandlaje sought to know what was wrong in that. “After all Modi is our captain,” she said.

JD(S) candidate and former union minister Dhananjay Kumar hopes that the people would reject the Congress as well as the BJP and opt for the JD(S) as only regional parties can give importance to local problems, citing Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Billavas, followed by bunts and fishermen communities, dominate Udupi district whereas Vokkaligas, Lingayats and SC/STs constitute the major population in Chikmagalur district.Even though there are 11 contenders in the fray, the present political scenario only predicts a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress here.

Barring the Congress and the BJP, there are nine other candidates including V Dhananjaya Kumar (JD-S), S Vijaykumar (CPI), C J Jagannath (CPI-ML Red Star), Zakir Hussain (BSP), Gurudev S H (AAP), M D Mainuddin Khan, Manjunatha G, Srinivas Poojary and Sudheer Kanchan (all 4 Independents).

Going by the results of the 2013 Assembly elections, the eight Congress candidates in Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency polled 4,10,631 votes while BJP managed to secure only 3,27,217, which is 83,414 votes less than the Congress candidates. On the other hand, though JD(S), CPI, CPI(ML) and AAP candidates can eat into Congress votes.

Will the politician with ‘clean image’ be able to stop the ‘Modi wave’ in the ‘Hindutva lab’ will be decided in just two days.

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