Political Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru

Mangaluru, May 14: Karnataka Assembly elections are due early next year, but the Election Commission has the right to call for the polls anytime after October this year. All three major political parties of the state, Congress, BJP and JD(S) have already started planning their strategies and calculations on selection of candidates.

Moodbidri has been one of undivided DK's important constituency from ages. Current MLA Abhaychandra Jain has been winning here for almost the last two decades. But the situation is quite different this time. Though Jain has performed as usual in the past four years, there are reliable reports that indicate the possibility that he may not contest the election this time. He could opt for MLC and propose his own candidate for the Assembly polls.

Interestingly, Jain seems to have realised that he has slim chances of retaining his seat if he contests again. The fact that in the last election the winning margin had reduced significantly is an indication of the decline of his popularity in the region. He was in the news for wrong reasons soon after becoming minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet. First, he showed reluctance in taking charge of the fisheries ministry due to religious reasons, then he had a tussle with auto drivers in Mulky, and later he reportedly threatened a journalist in Moodbidri. The Bajrang Dal leader Prashant Poojary's murder also put a black spot on his way of working. All these matters had been extensively covered in the local media which projected Jain in poor light. The biggest setback came when a section of the media reported that he would be dropped from the cabinet for poor performance, and his popularity chart began sliding in the constituency. The opposition grabbed this opportunity and started questioning his working style as well as his contribution to the constituency as an MLA and minister.

But the good thing he did was, for the party's sake, he did not revolt against the CM's decision of dropping him from the cabinet. He remained loyal to the CM, and more importantly, did not unleash his infamous anger in front of the media for axing him from the ministry. Now he has been rewarded with the post of in-charge of Gomateshwara Mastakabhisheka, which is a cabinet rank post.

Realising that Jain is not interested in contesting the polls this time, Mithun Rai, the Youth Congress leader who is in his early thirties took the opportunity to seek blessings from Jain himself, and started touring the Moodbidri constituency. Hailing from the strong Bunt community, he has already started his ground work in the constiuency and many are projecting him as the next Congress candidate from Moodbidri. It is heard that he has good support from Abhayacharndra Jain.

But the latest entry to the list of potential Moodbdri Congress candidates is Karnataka Legislative Council chief whip Ivan D'Souza. A seasoned politician who entered politics through Janata party at a very young age without godfathers or family members in politics, he had first contested elections at the age of 27 from Kaup. Even after leaving JD(S) and joining Congress in 2004, Ivan was seen as a potential Assembly candidate in every state elections. In 2013, J R Lobo's entry into politics put Ivan on the backfoot, and he was denied Congress ticket from Mangaluru South. But his rapport with CM Siddaramaiah not only earned him MLC nomination but also the post of chief whip.

With an eye on the coming Assembly elections, Ivan has thrown his hat into the Moodbidri constituency ring. According to information received from Congress insider sources, he has started doing his homework in Moodbidri and even started visiting booth-level leaders, attending functions and also convened several meetings.

It will be interesting to see whether Abhaychandra Jain will support Ivan or stick to Mithun Rai. Moreover, Ivan and Mithun were considered as 'Guru-Shishya' as Mithun was largely seen in Ivan's camp ever since Mithun entered politics.

Though there is no official word yet on these political developments, it will be interesting to see how many more aspiring candidates enter into Moodbidri race from the Congress camp.

Another source from Congress says, one cannot rule out the late entry of Veerappa Moily's son Harsha Moily, who is desperately looking for a political launch. In the last Parliament election, Moily tried his best to make his son the candidate from Mangaluru consituency, but failed to get local support here. Sources say, Moily is planning to launch him through his birthplace from Moodbidri for the Assembly seat.