It is a close and a straight fight between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, although there are nine candidates in the fray.
Anantkumar Hegde of the BJP, who won from the constituency in 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2009, is facing Prashant Deshpande of the Congress. Mr. Prashant Deshpande is the son of Higher Education Minister R.V. Deshpande.
Support for BJP
The constituency hit the headlines recently when Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Shivananda Naik withdrew from the race on the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers on March 29. Mr. Naik cited internal problems in the JD(S) for his sudden move.
He has decided to back the BJP.
In the 2009 elections, Mr. Hegde defeated Congress candidate Margaret Alva by a margin of 22,769 votes. JD(S) candidate V.D. Hegde was in the third place with 48,842 votes.
In its campaign, the Congress is focussing on the achievements of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the State government.
“We are fighting on our own positive agenda. But we are also focussing on the BJP’s poor track record in developing the constituency,” Mr. Prashanth Deshpande said.
The BJP is harping on the ‘Modi wave’, the scams of the UPA government and the achievements of Mr. Hegde as an MP.
“Our candidate has a clean image, experience and a good record. Mr. Prashanth Deshpande is a newcomer,” said M.M. Hegde, organising general secretary of Uttara Kannada district unit of the BJP.
There are problems of dissent in both the parties. The Congress has the Deshpande faction and the Alva faction. Ms. Alva’s son, Nivedit Alva was also a contender for ticket. In the BJP, some leaders are dissatisfied with Mr. Hegde.
Denial of dissent
But both parties deny any reports of dissent. “Mr. Alva was campaigning for me in Sirsi a couple of days ago. We are in touch with one another,” Mr. Prashant Deshpande said.
“There is no dissent in the BJP. We are all solidly behind Mr. Anantkumar Hegde,” Mr. M.M. Hegde said.
According to political observers, while Mr. Naik’s support may help the BJP, his withdrawal from the race is likely to push the minority votes to the Congress.