The mention of Udupi conjured up images of famous Krishna temple and Ashta Mutts established by the exponent of Dwaita philosophy Madhvacharya and educational institutions, a majority of which are in Manipal.
The Udupi constituency, which nestles between Western Ghats and Arabian Sea, has a blend of modernity with that of tradition.
The assembly constituency comprises Udupi CMC and 14 gram panchayats of Brahmavar.
The Congress has won seven times in the last 12 Assembly elections. The BJP emerged victorious on three occasions while the Praja Socialist Party and the Karnataka Congress Party have won the elections once each.
However, the Udupi City Municipal Corporation, which was earlier a Town Municipal Corporation, has been dominated by the Jan Sangh and later the BJP. Congress candidate T A Pai was the first MLA of the constituency. Until 1970s the fight was between the Congress and the Praja Socialist Party. With the launch of the Janata Party, changes started and now the fight has narrowed to the Congress and the BJP.
Though the BJP, in its two terms has taken up infrastructure development, the constituency is facing water scarcity during summer. The district hospital lacks facilities and has very few beds. The Padukere-Malpe bridge still remains a distant dream for the people. Brahmavar sugar factory has left farmers in debts and elected representatives only make promises on reviving it.
After representing the constituency for two terms, Raghupathy Bhat of the BJP has opted out after a television channel aired clips of a CD allegedly showing him in a compromising position with a woman. Now, the BJP has fielded former vice-president of the Udupi municipality B Sudhakar Shetty, who had lost to Congress candidate U R Sabhapathi by a margin of 710 votes in 1999.
Sudhakar Shetty told Deccan Herald that the BJP is united and the workers were actively involved in intensive campaigning. “The development that has changed the face of the entire assembly constituency itself is our strength.” He said Raghupathy Bhat is a victim of conspiracy. The incident will have no bearing on the outcome of the results. The state government programmes have been delivered effectively.
The BJP is banking on the development work such as widening of the Udupi-Manipal road and construction of the District Office Complex during the last five years.
On the other hand, Congress candidate Pramodh Madhawaraj doubts the claims of the BJPs ‘development mantra’.
“The Congress has value based politics. I am personally in constant touch with the people of the constituency for the last two to three years. Drinking water, multi-specialty hospital and employment generation are the core issues that the BJP has failed to address. I am confident of my victory,” Pramod, who lost twice to Raghupathy, added.
Though a JD(S) candidate and four independents are in the fray, they may not make much impact.
Will the Congress be able to stop BJP’s hattrick will be known on May 8, the day of announcement of results.