Mangalore/Udupi, Apr 30, 2013, DHNS :
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi were perhaps among the most secular districts till the Port City witnessed ‘church attacks’ in 2008 and a ‘pub attack’ the next year (both in Dakshina Kannada district) and assault on cattle transporters (2006) in Udupi.
The homestay attack in 2012 was the latest on the list.
Since then, both the districts have been witnessing ‘nasty incidents’ never heard of before in the region. Be it moral policing, communal tensions, stray incidents of attacks on places of worship, or even Maoist visits to certain pockets, the two districts have undergone a sea change in the last couple of years.
With just four days left for polling, candidates and their supporters are trying their level best to woo the voters.
Of the 13 constituencies in Dakshina Kannada (8) and Udupi (5), the tally of the Congress-BJP is 4-4 and 1-4, respectively. While the Congress had won in Mangalore (U T Khader), Moodbidri (K Abhayachandra Jain), Bantwal (B Ramanath Rai) and Belthangady (K Vasanth Bangera) Assembly constituencies in Dakshina Kannada, the BJP had won in Mangalore South (N Yogish Bhat), Mangalore North (J Krishna Palemar), Puttur (Mallika Prasad) and Sullia (S Angara) constituencies.
In Udupi district, the BJP had won in Udupi (Raghupathy Bhat), Kaup (Lalaji Mendon), Kundapur (Haladi Srinivas Shetty) and Baindoor (Lakshminarayan) while the Congress managed to win only one seat in Karkala (Gopal Bhandary).
An interesting aspect in this election is that seven of the eight sitting MLAs are contesting in DK (except Mallika Prasad in Puttur) and three of the five sitting MLAs in Udupi (Haladi as an Independent this time).
Rise of SDPI
Till the recent urban local body elections, not many had heard of SDPI or Social Democratic Party of India. However, when its candidate defeated the sitting mayor, besides winning a few seats in the district in the urban local body polls, it raised many an eyebrow.
At a time when more than half a dozen parties, including the JD(S), JD(U), KJP, CPI, CPI(M) and BSR, are struggling to open an account in the polls, the SDPI managed to win six seats in DK and 17 in the State and they managed to get the second position in 18 places. Interestingly, the party contested in 206 seats in the ULB polls, much more than many regional parties.
For readers who do not know much about SDPI, it has many branches along the lines of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). While its student wing is called Campus Front of India (a la Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) its women’s wing is known as National Women’s Front, all affiliated to the Popular Front nicknamed the ‘Muslim version of the RSS.’
No doubt, the chances of SDPI candidates winning are almost nil, but the fact remains that they may be able to alter the results. And if that happens, then it would affect none other than the Congress, as there is a neck-and-neck fight between the Congress and the BJP in at least 11 of the 13 constituencies and the winning margin of candidates is never too high.
Interestingly, the SDPI is contesting in all the eight Assembly constituencies in DK and four of the five constituencies (in association with the BSP) in Udupi (except Kundapur).
Though the Congress leaders are hoping for an anti-incumbency wave (evident from ULB poll results), what if all the voters don’t turn out at the polling booths? It is a fact that BJP voters will not miss their vote wherever they are. Poor turnout will directly affect all other parties, except the BJP.
(Ronald Anil Fernandes)