Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Apr 17: When the first list of Congress candidates was announced on Sunday night, as expected massive discontent erupted among ticket seekers from all corners who were among the probables to the B form from Congress. Mangaluru and Udupi districts were not an exception. Though a majority of the tickets were issued to incumbent MLAs, two seats from the coastal belt created huge problems for the Congress high command. The Karkala and Moodbidri seats at the moment are considered as 'Congress gifts to BJP' as candidates in both the constituencies are considered weak and facing anger and revolt from own partymen.
In Karkala, Sunil Kumar, the incumbent BJP candidate is dominating the region, and the only way to give him a tough fight was by giving the ticket to Uday Kumar Shetty Muniyal, who is a powerful PWD contractor, and hails from the strong Bunt community. But Veerappa Moily, former chief minister, former central minister and former MLA from Karkala turned out to be the spoilsport and villain for his own partymen.
According to close local Congress sources from Karkala, Moily played a huge 'selfish' role in refusing ticket to Uday Kumar Shetty. Moily wanted to field his son Harsha Moily, though he is neither popular, nor has caste power in Karkala. Sources allege that his 'excessive love for son' made him jeopardise his own party's prospects in Karkala. "When Moily left Karkala for national politics, he handed over the seat to his close aide Gopal Bhandary, who is considered a humble and non-corrupt person, on the condition that when his son grows up, the seat should be given back to him," says a Congress party worker to Daijiworld in Karkala.
But it was too late for Moily to field his son in Karkala as a leader called Uday Kumar Shetty had already grown in stature, and was accepted by the people of all communities.
Fearing insecurity for his son and not willing to compromise on his dream of making a political debut, Moily is said to have played a huge role in awarding the ticket to Gopal Bhandary who is considered as a weak opponent to BJP's Sunil Kumar. A Congress defeat would certainly help Moily to launch his son in Karkala in the future polls, as Harsha is still young.
Uday Kumar Shetty's supporters still hope for a reversal of fortune. They hope that realising the local situation, the Congress may come to its senses and withdraw the ticket from Bhandary through a compromise formula. If not, Shetty might plunge into the electoral battle through JD(S) ticket. He would make sure that he takes away a major portion of Congress votes, his community and substantial minority votes on his side.
On the other hand, Abhaychandra Jain, whose popularity started declining over the years due to his arrogant behaviour in public, was almost certain to sacrifice his seat to Youth Congress leader Mithun Rai. Jain had even publicly acknowledged that he would not contest the 2018 polls, but groom Mithun for the future. Trusting his words, Mithun spent money and time in Moodbidri to reach out to people. During Rahul Gandhi's visit he was instrumental in gathering thousands of youths and Congress workers from Moodbidri region. Rahul Gandhi even approved his name among one of the ten young leaders for this election. Also, at the same time, Ivan D'Souza, chief whip of the state Legislative Council tried his luck, calculating on his imagined minority votes as well as other caste strategies. At the end, both had to be disappointed, because the high command did not want to break the caste votes in Moodbidri.
But the high command would not have realised that the Congress in Moodbidri would lose votes of both Bunts and minorities, thereby facilitating an easy walkover for the BJP. It will be BJP's first ever win in Moodbidri, if the calculation goes right. BJP has already fielded Umanath Kotian for the constituency.
On one side, Jain is facing the brunt from Mithun's young brigade as well as the Bunt community, on the other hand, JD(S) is planning to field Ashwin Pereira, another popular local leader who has the blessings of veteran Amarnath Shetty. Shetty, recently in an exclusive interview to Daijiworld said that due to health issues, money and also family pressure he would not contest the assembly polls, but would wait and watch the candidates Congress and BJP candidates field before making the choice of new candidate.
Looking at the current scenario, it is clear that Jain is at the receiving end. The only hope Jain can rely on is if he convinces Amarnath Shetty to contest once again, so that votes will get divided, if not he has little hopes. According to local Congress sources, all the elections won so far by Jain were not because of caste support or his personal popularity or even Congress power, but only due to the fact that in every election Amarnath Shetty was successful in dividing the votes!