Mangalore: BJP plays development card for MCC elections
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Mar 2: Campaigning by major political parties is fast gaining momentum for the 60 wards of Mangalore City Corporation which are going to polls on March 7, 2013. For the BJP which rode to power in Mangalore City Corporation for the first time in 2007, putting an end to more than two-decades of rule by the Congress, this election is not going to be a cakewalk. This time the party is fighting anti-incumbency both at the local and state level and the weakening of its strength following the split in the party at the state level, leading to the formation of KJP.
The BJP had won 34 wards out of the 60 in Mangalore City Corporation in the last elections and the party wants to improve its tally in this election. Party leaders contend that in local elections people are concerned more about the local issues because they affect them directly. Therefore, BJP feels that the development work undertaken by the party during its 5 year tenure and the individual work done by the sitting corporators will help the party to romp home to victory.
The BJP has suffered a last minute jolt in its preparation for these civic polls with the resignation of two corporators - James D'Souza from Maroli and Mohan Padil (of home stay attack fame) from Alape. Other than these two quitting the party in an inopportune time the party did not face any kind of bickering, or at least it has not come in the open unlike the Congress.
R Srikar Prabhu, President of BJP Mangalore South constituency unit is confident that the party would come back to power by winning more than 40 seats as against the 34 seats the party had won in the last elections. “We have provided a clean government without any scandals and the money earmarked for developmental work has been used for the purpose. This has resulted in giving better civic facilities to the public”, he stated.
He said Mohan Padil did not inform the party leaders before quitting and James D'Souza who went back to Congress came back to BJP when he failed to get a ticket from there. “This goes to prove that he is not committed to any party and we will ensure that our party candidate Jagadeep Shenoy wins from this ward”, Srikar Prabhu stated.
The BJP has given tickets to 17 sitting corporators for the ensuring elections. The party has also given tickets to candidates who had contested and lost in the last elections and a few new faces are also getting an opportunity to contest.
Whether the BJP will be able to romp home to victory considering that there have been many political and other developments at the local level since 2007, is a million-buck question. It is expected that the results of the civic polls will set the trend for the assembly elections to be held in May this year and BJP is in no mood to risk the advantage that may come from the win in the civic polls.
District President of BJP Padmanabha Kottary says that his party has given tickets to those candidates recommended by the ward committee meant for the purpose. “We go by the recommendations because these committee members are in a better position to assess the candidate so that all those who have not done much to the people will be automatically eliminated”, Kottary stated.
Daijiworld spoke to a few BJP candidates in the fray to know what they say about their probability of winning and also to assess the general mood among the candidates in the party.
Naveenchandra is the sitting BJP corporator from Kambla ward (no. 29) who has been the corporator for two terms. He is contesting for the third time and is extremely confident of his victory.
Known for his ability to inspire his dedicated band of party workers, Naveenchandra is known as a no-nonsense candidate always keeping his party interests ahead of his own. Though his name was in circulation for mayor’s post two years back, he missed it but did not complain.
Though there are 4 candidates in the fray Naveen’s main opponent in this election is none other than Ganesh, against whose candidature the BJP had raised objections to the Election Officer, saying Ganesh who owns a shop in a complex owned by MCC had outstanding dues to the MCC. The election officer however, rejected the objections of BJP and has allowed Ganesh to contest. The BJP however, is planning to go to the court after the elections on the issue of false affidavit filed by him.
Naveenchandra who is yet to commence his door-to-door campaigning says “My party has done more for the city’s development in the last five years, than what the Congress did in the last 25 years. My work speaks of my performance”, says a confident Naveenchandra, who is sure of scoring a hat-trick win.
Shakila Kava, who was the Dy Mayor of the Mangalore City Corporation for a term, is the sitting Corporator from Padavu West (ward no. 21), a reserved constituency for women. There are five women in the fray here and all these women belong to Bunt community. Her main opponent is Akhila Alva of the Congress. The constituency has about 5700 votes and in the last elections she won by a margin of about 600 votes. Though all the women belong to Bunt community, it is believed that Shakila Kava has the edge over her opponents.
Party workers say Shakila is quite amiable and approachable and she has been very active as a corporator, always available for the people. Speaking about her chances of winning Shakila says “I belong to this Padavu area and during my tenure I ensured that work on concrete road worth Rs. 3 crores is completed and remaining work worth Rs. 2 crores has just begun. It will take another 2/3 months to complete this work”, Shakila pointed out.
Shakila says she wants to make her area a model ward, the no 1 ward in terms of development.
Sudhir Shetty is the sitting BJP corporator from Kannur (ward no 52). The area has about 55% Muslim population and Sudhir had pulled off a major victory against his nearest Congress opponent Hamid by winning with a slender margin of 22 votes.
There are 5 candidates in the fray from this ward and Sudhir is facing a tough challenge from Congress candidate Umarabba. JD (S) has fielded Vasanth Poojary. CPI and SDPI have both fielded Muslim candidates.
Sudhir Shetty is not worried about who his opponents are. Rather, he wants the people of Kannur to consider the work he has done for their welfare. He says he has been instrumental in getting extension of High School education in the existing school in Kannur. Kannur, he says, has been provided a public library, anganawadi centre, Health centre and many other developmental work during the rule of BJP.
Sudhir says “In civic elections it is always the local issues that matter. For state and national issues there are assembly and parliamentary elections. People are now smart enough to know how to vote for various elections. I feel I have the advantage because I have the support of local people including Muslims who are canvassing for me actively. I have not differentiated on caste, religion or language basis in providing facilities to Kannur”.
Anwar Reeko (Hussain) who is contesting from Kudroli (ward no 43) is BJP’s only minority candidate in the fray. In the last election the BJP had fielded Aziz and lost. Abdul Aziz is now contesting in the same ward as a JD(S) candidate and Congress has fielded Shamsuddin to take on Reeko and Aziz.
Reeko who is not very eloquent and answers mostly in monologue, says he has been a BJP worker for the last 9 years and had sought party ticket from the BJP in 2007 also without success. He is confident that whatever social service he has done as an ordinary party worker of BJP will keep him in good stead. Reeko is now pitted against his own brother but he says it is personal choice and their party affiliation has nothing to do with their relationship.
BJP really needs to work hard putting all its manpower to work to ensure Anwar Reeko’s victory.
BJP candidate from Padavu Central (ward no 35) is Sumana Sharan who had contested from this ward in 2007 but had lost. Mariamma Thomas, who was BJP corporator for two terms had contested and won as an independent in the last elections, has recently joined KJP but is contesting as an independent candidate from here. It is a reserved constituency for women and Sumana is facing stiff competition from Congress and JD (S) candidates.
Sumana claims she is the first local candidate to contest from Padavu Central. Earlier, corporators like Abdul Aziz who was a four-time corporator from this area and sitting corporator Mariamma Thomas who also doesn’t belong to the area have contested from here. She is determined to make full use of her being a local person.
Sumana says she has nursed her ward as a loyal party worker and the benefits of her good work, she says, will turn into votes in her favour. This ward has about 6093 votes and Sumana Sharan who has been actively campaigning with door-to-door canvassing, is quite confident of pulling off a victory over her firebrand opponent Mariamma Thomas.
On the Election Trail