MANGALORE: For both the national parties, Bantwal assembly constituency in DakshinaKannada district and Udupi in Udupi district are key constituencies since both represent power centres in the respective districts.
DK district Congress committee president and Bantwal Congress candidate B Ramanath Rai sounded the war cry in the initial stages of campaigning saying his opponent was RSS supremo Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat. The latter, it is learnt, has not taken it lightly. The constituency is also home to BJP district unit president Padmanabha Kottari.
One surprising factor is the Parivar ‘karyakartas’ have been a little slow in reacting to the poll situation, possibly in the backdrop of the party’s performance. The roping in of Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi for campaigning could be seen as an attempt to mobilize the majority against the Congress in this constituency as well as Moodabidri where Congress has been having a dream run. Kottari says: We lost Bantwal in 2008 due to a bit of carelessness on the part of our candidate B Nagaraj Shetty. This time Varun will help us mobilize our cadres.” Prabhakar Bhat refused to comment on polls saying the party leaders were the best to analyze the situation.
A Bajrang Dal leader admits that campaign is slow. But it will pick up in the last two days,” says the leader. This is the hallmark of the Parivar which has powers to mobilize the cadres at the drop of a hat to turn the tide. We know we will do badly all over the state. At least we want as many in DK and perhaps Udupi too,” says the leader.
Congress is jubilant. Rai says there is a strong anti-incumbency wave sweeping the state and the party will give a fitting reply to Hindutva forces, which have torn the social fabric.
A win in Udupi will stamp the resurgence of Congress which was witnessed when Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency was bagged by K Jayaprakash Hegde. It is noteworthy that while former MP DV Sadananda Gowda got a lead of 5,400 votes in Udupi constituency in the MP polls, Hegde got double that number. While BJP will want to discount this, Congress, on the other hand, has a chance to get back its bastion lost to the saffron party long back.
In Kaup, with 11 candidates in the fray and rebel in the form of former Congress leader Vasanth Salian, it will be an uphill task for Congress. Kundapur is one constituency where both national parties have to sweat it out against the popular independent Halady Srinivas Shetty. Karkala could go either way depending how strong anti-incumbency factors are as both Congress and BJP are strong.
Puttur could see an interesting fight for supremacy with BJP rebel Shakuntala joining Congress ranks, with DV’s relative in the fray from BJP. As of now, anti-incumbency sentiments are strong, says K Ram Bhat, DV’s mentor. Unless a strong ant-incumbency factor favours Congress in Mangalore City North and City South, the going will be tough for it.
Voters in DK: 15,00,385 (women 7,57,236)
Voters in Udupi: 8,54,068 (women 4,52,039)
KEY CONTESTANTS IN DK
N Yogish Bhat (BJP- Mangalore City South), UT Khader (Cong-Mangalore), B Ramanath Rai (Cong-Bantwal), Shakuntala Shetty (Cong-Puttur), K Abhayachandra Jain (Cong-Moodabidri), Krishna Palemar (BJP-Mangalore City North).
While BJP has a dream run in Sullia, Puttur, Mangalore City North, Mangalore City South, Congress has held its own in Mangalore, Moodabidri and Bantwal. The mixed result was in Belthangady where BJP won in 2004 and Congress in 2008
KEY CONTESTANTS IN UDUPI
Pramod Madhwaraj (Cong-Udupi), Haladi Srinivas Shetty (Ind-Kundapur), Lalaji Mendon (BJP-Kaup), Vinaya Kumar Sorake (Cong-Kaup), Vasanth Salian (JD-S Kaup)
It was BJP all the way in Kaup, Kundapur, Udupi in 2004 and 2008 barring Karkala and Byndoor where Congress won in 2008 and JD(S) won in 2004 respectively