Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)
Udupi, May 10: Karkala constituency has always proved to be the battleground where Congress and BJP have repeatedly fought it out to gain upper hand. Dashing personality, Sunil Kumar, has again been fielded by BJP from this constituency this time. Congress took sometime to finalize its candidate as dissidence cropped up within its circles about choice of candidate, which resulted in delay in announcing its candidate.
Initially, the name of M Veerappa Moily's son, Harsha Moily, had emerged as a prospective contender on behalf of Congress party. At this juncture, Muniyal Udayakumar Shetty, who had been working to organize the party in the constituency since the last four years, demanded his pound of flesh and sought to be made the party candidate. At the same time, the name of party veteran, Gopal Bhandary, too had been sent to the party high command by the state leadership.
Muniyal's fans had lot of expectations for their leader. Once it became clear that the party would field Gopal Bhandary, dissidence raised its ugly head here. At the same time, a wave against Harsha Moily's candidature had swept the constituency. Taking cue from the turmoil in the constituency, Harsha backtracked from the contest as being young, he is sure to get future opportunities. Veerappa Moily assumed leadership and acted swiftly to assuage the grievances of people from the constituency. However, this dissidence has all the makings of turning into advantage for BJP.
When Veerappa Moily ruled the election scene in Karkala, this constituency had remained a strong fortress of Congress party. In course of time, the opposition succeeded in making inroads in Congress bastion and drawing people's support by advocating strong Hindutva principles. The fact that Moily did not have advantage of strong presence of his caste, Congress gradually slid in terms of popularity. After Moily represented the constituency without a break from 1978 and 1998, Gopal Bhandary became MLA in 1999. In 2004, BJP opened its account for the first time in Karkala constituency as its candidate, Sunil Kumar, became victorious. Congress humbled BJP in 2008 but Sunil Kumar won again in 2013.
In 2013, eight candidates entered the election fray from this constituency. Sunil Kumar had won by getting 64,648 votes as against Bhandary's 60,374. This time however, five candidates have filed their nominations from this constituency.
Gopal Bhandary, Congress candidate
Congress candidate, H Gopal Bhandary, says that Karkala has been witnessing faster development since about the last 45 years, from the period Veerappa Moily began to represent this constituency. He says that he continued the good work done by his predecessor after succeeding Moily. He says that the Congress government led by Siddarmaiah has been conducting lot of development works and plans to undertake more such works in future too.
On BJP's performance, Bhandary says that BJP is mainly indulging in propaganda by hanging flexes everywhere.He blames BJP of claiming chief minisiter's development initiatives as its own. He says that BJP has not made any contribution to the development of this constituency.
About multiple candidates coming forward to fight the election on behalf of Congress, Bhandary says that Congress gets credit for gifting democracy to the nation and following internal democracy within the party. "In such a party with lot of liberty, it is natural for a number of candidates coming forward to fight ehe election. We cannot find fault in this, as it is prudent to expect many candidates where chance of victory is bright," he points out.
"Sometimes, unsavoury incidents which hurt our minds happen either internally or in some other form. The opposite party has given rise to occasions in which we were agitated and our minds were hurt. But I do not take such things seriously, nor do I believe in indulging in acts of vengeance. Because of lack of information,sometimes such unpleasant incidents do occur," Bhandary confesses.
Abut his plans for the naxal-infested areas, Bhandary says that not only in this constituency, but elsewhere too the naxal problem has been persisting. He feels that honest attempt needs to be made to reach to the root of the problem under which people living in such areas are deprived of basic facilities. "The bogie about driving away aborigines from the forest regions had been raised even when NDA government was ruling the centre. After UPA government rose to power, a bill for aborigines was passed and title deeds had been distributed to forest residents. Several other programmes were also undertaken to provide opportunities to such people to come up in life. As a result, this problem has dwindled over the years. Still, there is need to stay committed to mitigate problems of these people and address the issues faced by them," he said.
Gopal Bhandary notes that the statue of Gomateshwara in the town is famous all over India and the area has plenty of opportunities to emerge as forerunner in tourism. He said he wishes that this opportunity should be encashed well by providing basic amenities at tourist spots. He said that opportunities should be created for self employment so that young people from here need not migrate to cities seeking jobs. He said during his term he has done his best to undertake development works and promises to pursue them with renewed vigour if he gets an opportunity again.
Bhandary agrees that like elsewhere, the constituency has been witnessing increasing traffic density and therefore in tune with the current needs, it requires wider roads with bypass roads at places where roads cannot be widened.
On the influence of Rahul Gandhi's tour of district: Because of young president of Congress party, the party has got a newfound enthusiasm. His four-phase tour of the district has succeeded in creating a deep impact on the electorate in Karkala. People attended his programmes in large numbers. The people have become zestful and spirited after listening to his addresses. The people also have come to believe that under Rahul Gandhi, democratic system can affectively run the country.
People expect their people's representatives to provide basic facilities like hospitals, educational institutions, employment opportunities etc. He also is bound by duty towards creating a congenial envirornment under which people can come together and live unitedly. Bhandary says having born in Karlala in a family that was not involved with politics, and which was run through agriculture conducted in leased land, he came up in life the hard way. "People of Karkala have repeatedly elected me with love and respect. Even when was defeated, I got high votes. I have adopted politics as a field of service and hence my life is like an open book. I have worked in a way that my voters never regret having voted for me. I have never indulged in revengeful or retaliatory politics. I treat everyone equally and do work honestly. I never betray the people of Karkala who have reposed love and faith in me," he said. Bhandary also wants to make Karkala a model taluk in the state.
Sunil Kumar, BJP Candidate
BJP candidate, Sunill Kumar, says that during his tenure he had undertaken many development initiatives. "All the roads in Karkala have been widened and asphalting of rural roads is in progress now. Several mega road works were undertaken for the benefit of people here. As if a record of sorts in Karnataka, 57 vented dams were built and efforts were made additionally to recharge underground water table. During the last five yers, 32 bridges were constructed, new government hospital was built, new swimming pool, walking track around Anekere pond, new industrial zone in Miyyar, degree college at Muniyal, ITI college at Bajagoly, and additional rooms in all the junior college were built." he claimed.
He also took credit for distributing title deeds to over 3,000 people in the constituency, and for providing free LPG connections under ambitious 'Ujjwala' scheme of Prime Minister, Modi. He said that without the support of the government, with public participation, job fair was organized under his Vikas Service Trust through which over 600 persons got employement. "We also laid special emphasis on environment protection and created awareness among people towards this cause. We desilted Sigadi Kere here, and issued health insurance cards covering upto to Rs 50,000 to 1,300 auto drivers. We plan to seek votes on the basis of these performances," Sunil Kumar stated.
Speaking on Modi wave, Sunil Kumar feels that a huge pro-BJP wave has been created in the entire state on account of visit by the Prime Minister. He said that Modi has infused newfound enthusiasm among voters and party workers, and that Modi's speeches proved a boost for BJP. He says that he is sure that this wave will convert into votes for BJP and brings it to power again.
About perception of advantage created by differences within Congress, Sunil refused to get drawn into internal affairs of that party. "Only BJP has thought about development of Karkala constituency. Therefore,I am confident that voters will reject Congress. Congress has always sought votes without doing anything for the people, and indulging in malicious propaganda. People are aware that Congress never demanded votes rightfully," he commented.
On dreams about Karkala, BJP candidate wants this area to develop into tourist destination as it boasts of several unique locations like Attur church and Gomateshwara statue.
The other candidates in the fray are Uday Kumar (BSP), Ashraf Ali (independent), Maqsood Ahmed (All India Women's Empowerment Party), and Sumanth K Poojary.
Karkala, which had remained an unassailable bastion of the Congress till 2004, had slipped in certain areas and BJP succeeded intaking it into its grip. The candidates fielded by two major political parties here have exactly opposite characteristics. While Bhandary is simple and soft-spoken, Sunil Kumar is a skilled politician who is good at oratory skills. He has been putting in all out efforts to turn Karkala into a permanent fortress of BJP by using political techniques. As Sunil is a talented speaker, young people get attracted towards him easily.
Dissidence which happened within Congress this time has the potential of rocking the Congress boat. Supporters of Muniyal, who seem to have owned silence at the advice of senior party leaders after he lost the battle for ticket at the last moment, are like hot cinders covered by ash that can erupt all of a sudden into fire any time.
While BJP is promising of development, Congress has put forward its vision and dream for the future of Karkala and wants people to vote for it on this basis.
For Bhandary, the positive aspect is that in spite of being in politics for over four decades he has no blemish of corruption. This aspect might win him sympathy of voters. At the same time, Sunil can weave magic on the crowd with his illustrious speeches. He is prepared with all kinds of weaponry to defeat Congress. This constituency will again see epic battle between two giants, BJP and Congress, while the presence of other candidates seem to be inconsequential. No one is able to predict whether the people here will go for the time-tested veteran or elect again man with political acumen, Sunil Kumar of BJP.
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