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Keenly awaited fight between Ananth and Anand in Uttara Kannada

By political correspondent

Karwar, Apr 14: In Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, the battle is between Anant and Anand and the constituency has generated lot of interest mainly because Anant Kumar Hegde’s incendiary remarks. Many, both inside the BJP and in the opposition, want to see his downfall.

Elections are scheduled here on April 23 and this time the battle is between firebrand MP and Union Minister for Skill Development Anant Kumar Hegde and former minister Anand Asnotikar who is the coalition candidate of the Congress-JD(S) combine. Known for his controversial and rabid statements, Hegde is seeking re-election for the 6th time from this constituency which he won for the first time in 1996 riding on the sympathy wave following Bhatkal BJP MLA Dr U Chittaranjan’s assassination just 15 days prior to the general elections in 1996.

Anant and Anand

The Congress party here is yet to come to terms with the party’s decision to concede the seat to the JD (S) as part of the pre-poll arrangement. JD (S)’s influence in Uttara Kannada is confined only to a few pockets such as Karwar, Halihal and Kumta and the party has never been able to win any elections here. Therefore, allotting the seat to JD (S) as part of the pre-poll alliance was a big shocker to the Congress.   Congress leaders and grassroots workers are upset and have openly expressed their displeasure for ceding the seat to the JD(S).

Good Opportunity lost for the Congress?

The displeasure of Congress grassroots workers stems from the fact that they believe the party squandered a good opportunity to annex the seat from BJP’s Anant Kumar Hegde. Anant Kumar who is undefeated for the last 5 terms is facing the anti-incumbency wave and his controversial and frenetic remarks have been a great liability to the BJP. Within BJP also there was opposition to Anant Kumar Hegde and it is said that party even contemplated fielding a different candidate. In this backdrop Congress was disillusioned having failed to grab an opportunity to ouster Hegde.

On the other hand the joint Congress JD (S) candidate Anand Asnotikar is seen as a party hopper and in the last 10 years he has been associated with all the three major political parties in the state. He was elected on a Congress ticket in 2008 from Karwar but resigned from the party and the assembly to join the BJP government in the state. He was rewarded with the post of Minister for Fisheries, Science and Technology and even won the by-polls as a BJP candidate. But in 2013 he lost it to independent candidate Satish Sail. In the assembly elections held last year Asnotikar once again contested from JD(S) ticket but lost to Roopali Naik of the BJP though he managed to give a tough fight.

The constituency is a BJP bastion since 1996 when Ananth Kumar won the seat as a 28 year old and since been reelected five times except when he lost in 1999 to Congress leader Margaret Alva. In 2009 he had his revenge when he defeated Margaret Alva by a narrow margin of 22,769 votes. Uttara Kannada is also the stronghold of veteran Congress leader R V Deshpande and he succeeded in getting the party ticket to his son Prashanth R Deshpande. Prashant lost the battle   and Hegde won by a margin of 1,50,000 votes once again asserting his popularity.

Revenue minister R V Deshpande’s son was in the race for Congress ticket but was bewildered by the seat going to the JD(S). He along with his supporters he tried the Congress leadership to rethink and reverse the party’s decision without success. Sensing that there is opposition to Anant Kumar Hegde’s candidature within BJP the Congress party was under the impression that it will be able to turn the tables this time around by defeating Hegde. However, with the seat going to the JD (S) Congress calculation has turned topsy-turvy upsetting its traditional supporters and leaders.

Missing Congress – JD(S) chemistry

On the face of it, one gets an impression that all is well within the Congress- JD(S) but the reality is far from it. Though everyone is made to believe that the displeasure within the Congress has subsided there are here are fissures within the party rank and file. Absence of R V Deshpande who is also the district-in-charge minister when Asnotikar filed his nomination papers in the presence of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has given rise to speculations that he is still sulking having failed to reverse the decision of Congress high command and allot the seat to the Congress. Asnotikar’s remark a few months ago calling Deshpande old did not go well the Congress leader and his supporters and now they find themselves in a piquant situation to support the person who derided their leader openly.  As a result Congress JD(S) workers have failed to work in close coordination and JD (S) has alleged that Congress is not working hard enough to ensure the success of Asnotikar.

Anand Asnotikar

Congress dilemma is explicable because for the first time in almost 40 years there will not be a Congress symbol in the constituency which might jeopardize party’s future prospects. This is proving to be a major roadblock to Congress party workers who are saddled with the responsibility of working for the candidate of a different party and that too for a different symbol.   The Congress does not have a strategy in place to face a challenging situation where they are pitted against a strong competition from the incumbent  MP. In the situation such as this transfer of Congress votes to the JD (S) candidate is easier said than done.  

Hegde supporters are already talking about winning the seat by a margin of more than 3 lakhs and this over confidence has made way for a lackadaisical approach to the campaign.  As MP representing Uttara Kannada for 22 years Hegde has nothing much to boast about of doing anything concrete for the development of Uttara Kannada. He is therefore once again seeking votes in the name of Modi to stretch his unbeatable record for the sixth time. In the absence of any developmental work Anant resorts to provocative speeches and stokes controversy only through is disparaging remarks on nationalism and religion and his tirade against the minority community. His recent remark calling Rahul Gandhi a ‘Hybrid specimen’ has gone viral embarrassing BJP leadership and sharp criticism from the public who call him unfit to be a union minister.  Unfortunately, the affinity towards the BJP is so strong in the region people vote for the party than for the candidate and it has worked wonders for Hegde. 

Hegde – other name for arrogance

Hegde is also known for his arrogance and for deliberately not grooming second rung leaders to scuttle any future challenge. It is said that many youngsters in the BJP were forced to leave the party because of Hegde. Shivaram Hebbar, now a Congress MLA had left the party because of him. Local BJP youth leader Suraj Naik Soni against whom several cases communal violence cases were registered following the Paresh Mesta murder, has recently joined the JD(S) giving a big jolt to the BJP. Soni, who was denied an assembly ticket by BJP last year revolted and contested as an independent candidate securing 14.01% votes just behind the Congress.    Soni who considers Hegde as his political guru, accused his mentor of abandoning lower caste party workers after using them. According to sources, Soni was a contender for the parliamentary seat this year as there was talk of denying the ticket to Hegde.   However, Soni says those within the BJP-RSS throttled his candidature   forcing him to join the JD (S).

Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha constituency comprises 8 assembly segments   that includes Kuttur and Khanapur of Belagavi district and Haliyal, Yellapur, Sirsi, Karwar, Kumta and Bhatkal of Uttara Kannada. The constituency has 15,34,036 voters. The constituency was earlier knonw as Kanara Lok Sabha constituency and in 2008 following the delimitation it is renamed Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha constituency. Following delimitation Ankola assembly constituency ceased to exist and a new legislative assembly Yellapur was born.

Anant Kumar Hegde

There are 1992 polling stations in the constituency out of which 92 polling stations are located in places where there is no telephone connectivity.   Among the 1,922 polling stations in the constituency, 92 polling stations are located in such places where there was no telephone connectivity (either land or mobile phone). 

With the Congress and BJP winning 4 assembly constituencies each in the 2018 assembly elections a tough battle is on hand for Hegde. With hardly any achievements to boast about Hegde is in for a tough fight if the Congress-JD (S) are able to convert their coalition chemistry into votes. 

Comment on this article

  • Valerian Menezes, Kota

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Arrogance always destroys a man. It would not be different this time also whatever other drawbacks.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vishal, Mangalore

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    I would never want Anant Kumar Hegde or even persons like him to win any election. Whichever party he or she comes from, a person who talks ill of other religions and is out to divide the country on the basis of caste should be sent packing by the voters. It would be travesty of justice if this arrogant Hegde gets elected once again. That would certainly be a sad commentary on the people of the region.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [32] Reply Report Abuse

  • Desh Premi, Bangalore

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Ananth Kumar is known for giving hate speeches and playing religion politics. He is good in dividing people on the basis of religion and community politics instead of developing his constituency. He vl b taught a lesson in this election by his own people for his arrogance. Choose a candidate who can work for the welfare of society not anti social.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Gabriel Lewis, Brahmavar

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Even at times like this Hegde will win means he is undefeatable.

    DisAgree [44] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Gabriel Lewis, Brahmavar,
    Do you think Narendra Modi is also Undefeatable ...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [43] Reply Report Abuse

  • Elwyn Goveas, Valencia

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Let arrogant Ananth loose the election and Humble Anand win the battle.People of Uttara Kannada please be wise enough to decide your vote.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [53] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sun, Apr 14 2019

    Hooligan will Loose ...

    DisAgree [10] Agree [59] Reply Report Abuse

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