Amarnath Shetty - Veteran JD(S) loyalist stands tall amid falling political values
Daijiworld Media Network - Moodbidri
Moodbidri, Apr 1: The gentleman politician that he is K Amarnath Shetty JD(S) strongman from Moodbidri, is taking a plunge once again as a JD(S) candidate to test his political fortunes. Though the party has not officially announced his candidature it is an open secret that when it comes to JD(S) in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Amarnath Shetty he is the deciding authority. Being a senior leader he commands highest respect of his party men and if he chooses to contest no other candidate would oppose him. It is unfortunate that that in the internal feud within the JD(S) his name is unnecessarily dragged into it. The fulminations of the aya ram and gaya rams, who he terms as opportunists, doesn’t bother him because he feels they don’t deserve his comments. Having changed their party loyalties, he feels these opportunists have exposed their own imbecilities. .
Soft spoken for a politician Amarnath Shetty is a household name in Moodbidri from where he has won thrice, his last win being in 1994. He is a rare breed of politicians who believes that one need not be in power to serve humanity and therefore he takes success and failure in his strides in equal measure. There was a time when people of Moodbidri swore by his name as he has been the catalyst for Moodbidri’s emergence in the map of the state and the country. At 73, he is all set to get into the nitty-gritty of fighting assembly elections once again from Moodbidri and it remains to be seen whether the people of Moodbidri will repay their gratitude to this man who has been instrumental in making Moodbidri what it is today.
When Daijiworld went to meet Amarnath Shetty at his luxurious mansion “Ashritha” in Moodbidri, there was turmoil within the JD(S) in Dakshina Kannada as 60 men had tendered their resignations. But Amarnath Shetty looked least perturbed by these developments and he made no efforts to stonewall their actions.
18 years is a long time
It has been nearly 48 years since he joined politics and 30 years since he first won the assembly election in 1983. When other politicians have switched their allegiance often Amarnath Shetty has always been a ‘Janatha’ man who never switched loyalties but remained in the various avatars of Janatha party. He has been a contestant for assembly elections seven times and was the winner three times. It is 18 years since Amarnath Shetty won the last time in 1994, and it is quite a long hibernation for a political leader. But Amarnath Shetty doesn’t think so. He says he lost the last three elections due to the machinations of both the Congress and the BJP. He brushes aside the reported rumours that he was fed up of the internal feud of JD(S) and was thinking of quitting the party. “Serving the people is my passion. I am still in active politics”, he says when asked about the rumours.
In these 48 years the last two decades have been the most trying period of Amarnath Shetty’s political career not because he had lost the elections but because of the low level to which his political opponents descended to discredit him. He specifically recalls an incident of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee visiting Mangalore when Amarnath Shetty was the district-in-charge minister. Being minister in charge of the district, he was asked to receive him at the airport on behalf of the then Chief Minister J H Patel. But Shetty was thunderstruck when he realized that the Congress was circulating the photo of his receiving and garlanding Vajpayee during the elections to drive home the point that Amarnath Shetty was hobnobbing with the BJP. “They went to the homes of the voters with this photographs and pamphlets to besmirch my reputation and the gullible people believed them”, he states. BJP too, he says resorted to negative campaigning saying that if they vote for Amarnath Shetty it will pave the way for the Congress candidate to win.
2004 Shetty says he was a victim of confusion created by the name of MP candidate Tharanath Shetty. In 2008 the BJP crying foul with the accusation of ‘vachana bhrashta’ worked against him and his party. The delimitation process in 2008 resulting in adding about 35,000 voters from Surathakal constituency to Moodbidri also proved to be his undoing as there was a complete disconnect with these voters.
He is also pained by the recent canards spread by a local Congress leader that Amarnath Shetty was considering joining Congress. All that he had done was talking to Moily (who was incidentally his classmate) about a work to be done when they met at the Airport recently just by providence. “This leader who is insecure about his own future has spread rumours that I was negotiating with Moily about joining Congress and even went to the media with the news. I just wonder how these people can stoop down that low. This kind of rumour-mongering creates lots of confusion among people”, says a visibly upset Amarnath Shetty.
Congress vs Amarnath’s Charisma
As for Congress win in Moodbidri he says, “It was a win for the party and not the candidate. The party has carried out a malicious propaganda and misinformation campaign against me. If the Congress candidate chose to contest independently, I am sure there is no way he can win”, he reasons.
There are people who say that Amarnath Shetty is a good politician but is in a wrong party. He rubbishes them as fallacious saying “As far as I am concerned I am in the right party and I know what I am doing. I have been approached by both the Congress and the BJP. But I follow certain principles in my political life and I would like to say I would rather resign than switch loyalties”.
When Amarnath Shetty was quizzed on the internal bickering within JD(S) and his own role in precipitating the matter (as accused by them) and its impact on the prospects of JD(S) in this coastal region, he showed his utter disdain for these developments saying ‘these people who are creating trouble are party hoppers. The trouble is created by those who migrated from other parties and they have done the same in every party they have joined. I am a senior party leader and have been working to build this party when there was no one to do so. Just wait and watch these people as the will be ready to jump once again if they don’t get tickets. What loyalty can one expect from them? This is nothing but self-centered politics”. He also said that he had no role in bringing recent entrants like Nagaraj Shetty and M G Hegde into the party fold. But he has not opposed their entry also. “If our leader Kumaraswamy has taken a decision to absorb them how can I oppose my own leader”? he counters.
So where does JD(S) stand as far as political fortunes of the party is concerned amidst the internal feud within the party sending wrong signals. Amarnath Shetty bluntly says that his party holds no chance in Udupi but in Dakshina Kannada he says they hope to win 3 to 4 seats, which no doubt looks exaggerated considering the party is in total shambles. Amarnath Shetty argues that the recent ULB results has catapulted JD(S) to second position in terms of votes, pushing the BJP to third place. He however, accepts that the party has suffered a setback in this region due to lack of good leaders in the party. This he attributes to the tendency of politicians to run after parties in power.
Amarnath Shetty’s name is unequivocally associated with Moodbidri in view of the good work he did when he was the minster during Janata Party rule. It was his efforts that brought taluk status to Moodbidri which otherwise would have remained a part of Karkala taluk. Moodbidri also witnessed many developmental works during his tenure.
Known as a non-corrupt politician who rose to the assembly having contested from grass root level, Amarnath Shetty feels the people of Moodbidri will vote for him keeping in mind his good track record and the work he has done in his constituency. Though the pain of people rejecting him not once but twice under various circumstances is writ large on his face, he is confident that he will be able to convince the voters on the sagacity of voting for him. “I will work for my people as I have always done. I am sure I will be able to win over the love and affections of my people. My supporters are my real strength and I am sure with their support and hard work I will be able to win over the love and affection of people of my constituency”.
There were rumours of Amarnath Shetty not contesting elections owing to ill-health. But he is in pink of health except for a plastic surgery under his feet which has not hindered his movements in any way except that he has to be cautious while walking on uneven grounds.
This probably might be Amarnath Shetty’s swansong (unless the coming elections make way for a midterm poll) and certainly he wants to say goodbye to his illustrious political career with a win. Will the people of Moodbidri oblige to their favorite son?
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