Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SP)
Udupi, Feb 11: Although Dakshina Kannada district was divided into two by geographically slicing away Udupi district in the year 1997, sentimentally people of both the districts enjoy the same bond of oneness that existed in the past. Just like Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, Udupi - Chikkamagaluru constituency has Arabian Sea on one side and Western Ghats on the other.
Advance preparations for the coming Lok Sabha election here have begun in right earnest from the grass root level.
Details of constituency
Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency is made up of eight assembly constituencies. They are Kaup, Karkala, Kundapur, Mudigere (SC), Sringeri, Tarikere, Udupi, and Chikkamagaluru.
T A Pai had won the seat on behalf of Indian National Congress in 1977. Thereafter, Oscar Fernandes created history by getting elected for five consecutive times in 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, and 1996. In 1998, I M Jayaram Shetty of BJP had won the election whereas in 1999, Congress candidate, Vinay Kumar Sorake, was elected. BJP candidate, Manorama Madhwaraj, won the seat for BJP in 2004. She was succeeded by BJP's D V Sadananda Gowda in 2009. In 2012 by-poll, the constituency went to Jayaprakash Hegde of Congress. In 2014, Shobha Karandlaje of BJP won the election.
The constituency's electorate size is 13,87,298 comprising 6,79,286 male voters and 7,08,009 female voters.
Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency is spread over a large geographical area. Moreover this district is known as one where intelligent people live. At the same time, reaching all the voters of this constituency, who are highly ambitious, in an effective manner poses a huge challenge for the contestants.
As per the current indications, BJP has a long list of aspirants for this constituency. Names in the forerunners among them are of Yashpal Suvarna, Shobha Karandlaje, Jayaprakash Hegde, Mattaru Ratnakar Hegde, Vilas Nayak and Uday Kumar Shetty.
Shobha Karandlaje, Jayaprakash Hegde and Mattaru Ratnakar Hegde
The current trends indicate that chances of BJP opting for a new face this time are bright. Therefore many people identified with BJP have been claiming their own leaders as strong contenders to become party candidates. Several have been projecting themselves as prospective candidates. It is said that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, wants tickets to be issued to young, educated people who are active in Sangh Parivar activities. If we go by these calculations, Yashpal Suvarna shines as a popular leader of young population who has considerable backing in coastal belt. The people from here have been hankering for a local candidate. The popular demand for young, educated, local leader has the prospects of bringing up a surprise candidate as this strategy can work as game changer here.
Current MP of the constituency, Shobha Karandlaje of the BJP, has always been identified as a state leader. People here feel that remaining as a state leader serves the interests of the party better . For some reason, she could not properly gel with the people of this constituency or work efficiently during her entire term. The people of this region have for sure developed a disliking for her. This can also prove to be a negative point for the party in the future.
As per sources, Karnataka has a fishermen population of 45 lacs. Yashpal has been identified with fishermen's associations and fish marketing federation apart from several other associations and organizations. Therefore, his leadership qualities are unquestionable. When we take into account the quantum of business, annual turnover of Rs 250 crore is transacted through the fish federation he heads. He also is associated with other cooperative sector entities. As he is in the cooperative sector, there is the bright prospect of him winning the support of Sahakara Bharathi members. Therefore he can emerge as a winning horse in political field.
Last time, Yashpal had succeeded in holding a mega convention of fishermen at Malpe which was attended by BJP national president, Amit Shah. His work at that time has won him appreciation of thousands of people living in the west coast.
Another name that has been getting maximum mentions is that of Jayaprakash Hegde. He was associated with Janata Dal. He became MLA as an independent candidate before joining hands with the Congress. At present he is struggling to find a firm footing in BJP. A huge crowd of his fans, most of whom have been swayed by his leadership qualities, provide him rock solid support. After he parted ways from the Congress recently, that party lost its grip over Brahmavar constituency where Hegde has a faithful following of fans.
During the last year's assembly election, Jayaprakash Hegde was expected to be fielded as a candidate for either Byndoor or Kundapur constituency and his name was in circulation till the last minute. Hegde had got involved enthusiastically in election campaigning. At the end, his supporters and fans had disappointment in store. BJP insiders believe that Hegde, if fielded, can easily win this seat for BJP. For Hegde, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency is not new turf. He had won this seat as a Congress candidate in 2012. Even now, as in the past, he has been involved with people-friendly initiatives without confining himself to party politics. Voters want to have such leaders and they want to be able to get in touch with their MLA or MP without problem. Hegde fits this bill well. A large section of the electorate here wants him to be their people's representative.
Another person who gets mentioned as a likely BJP candidate from this constituency happens to be Mattaru Ratnakar Hegde, BJP district president. He meets Modi's requirement as far as educational qualification, good profession and creativity are concerned. He is an advocate by profession and a strong Bunt community leader. He entered politics about 15 to 20 years back. He came from JD(S) and got elevated to the position of BJP district president in a few years. Last time, the BJP bagged all the five assembly seats in the district. This reflects Mattar's functioning style and his ability in ensuring that the party and the battery of party workers rallied behind him. He is a simple, straight-forward man who responds to the problems of everyone.
Yashpal Suvarna, Vilas Nayak and Uday Kumar Shetty
Uday Kumar Shetty from here is another aspirant. He says that he will work honestly if the party leadership gives him a chance. Currently he is functioning as the party's Mangaluru division in-charge of the party. He had been the district BJP president in 2010. He played a stellar tole in ensuring that Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Mudra Yojana etc of the central government reach the people. He has his own charisma in BJP and is identified with state and national level leaders of the party.
The name of Vilas Nayak cannot be ignored when it comes to becoming Lok Sabha candidate from this constituency. His ability cannot be undermined. He has led pro-Hindu organization, and is close to senior Hindutwa leaders. He is an entrepreneur who is a young, emerging leader. He has earned appreciation after leading several Hindu religious progammes here. He deserves to be appreciated for being able to have close contact with national level Hindu religious leaders, in spite of the fact that he does not hail from a political background.
At the recent BJP executive meeting, many steadfastly said that they do not need Shobha Karandlaje again. There is the possibility of a state leader being fielded from here. As the BJP workers and leaders in unison have turned into solid supporters of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, many feel that there will be no major shift in the result in spite of which candidate is fielded by the party. The district does not witness caste-based politics.
Still, political parties cannot stop short of making caste calculation. As such, if a member of Bunt community is fielded form Dakshina Kannada constituency, that community might lose its chance to get candidature here. Because the party does not want the voters to feel that the it is backing a particular caste instead of the entire Hindu society.
There is a considerable fishermen population here. Joining hands with this strong community can expand the base of party voters, it is being felt.
BJP here is committed to undertake campaign mainly in the name of Modi. It is said that a few Modi tea stalls have already come up here. Teams named 'Namo Fighters', 'Namo Brigade' etc have already been formed. Efforts are being made to woo young college students through attractive slogans and specific organizations. The party is taking the coming Lok Sabnha election with utmost seriousness and working under the slogan, 'Ajeya Bharat - Atala BJP (unconquerable India - unshakeable BJP)'.
Congress party is well-equipped to face the coming Lok Sabha election from this constituency. Even though the party faced crushing defeat in all the constituencies of the district in the recent assembly election, it is now ready to launch a winning horse here. The party is faced with a long list of willing contestants but workers are confused about who could be the most capable among them. This matter had also come up for discussion in Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. As of now, Vinay Kumar Sorake seems to be ahead of others in the race. Sorake, who entered politics when he was 29, had won this Lok Sabha seat in 1999. Even after losing the last year's assembly election, he has continued to be associated with social activities and when he was the MLA, Kaup had witnessed good progress. Sorake is mild-mannered, educated, and an active leader.
Vinay Kumar Sorake, Pramod Madhwaraj and Dr Arathi Krishna
Dr Arathi Krishna's name is often heard as a possible candidate after Sorake. She belongs to Vokkaliga community. She is backed by the experience of having worked as vice president of Karnataka NRI Foundation. She perhaps is the only lady candidate from Karnataka in Lok Sabha election. She is a member of All India Congress Committee now. She happens to be the daughter of Begane Ramayya, who was Sringeri MLA. Congress has so far shown preference for candidates belonging to communities having medium presence. Some sources feel that Arathi may be preferred by her party as it wants to field at least one woman candidate and also as she belongs to Vokkaliga community.
Former district in-charge minister, Pramod Madhwaraj, is an aspirant for Congress ticket from this seat. He has already been collecting opinions from the party workers relating to his prospects as a possible candidate, it is said. He might take time to earn the love and respect of people from Chikkamagaluru district. It is said that after he lost the previous assembly election, he has been fully involved with his business.
Oscar Fernandes and Amruth Shenoy
Young Congress leader, Amruth Shenoy, has always enjoyed a strong presence in the party since long. He also has a formidable presence as an independent. He is a member of AICC and is closely associated with state level Congress leaders. Therefore he might attract support to some extent.
Sources say that Rajya Sabha member, Oscar Fernandes, has expressed his inclination to fight the Lok Sabha election on behalf of Congress. He is a hardcore Congressman who has organizational skills. He is associated with various organizations and institutions and has been honestly serving the party.
If we take into account aspirants in Chikkamagaluru, the district Congress president there, Dr Vijay Kumar, too wants to fight the election.
However, nothing can be said for sure now as the state is ruled by coalition government, and last minute changes are possible. JD(S) MLC, Bhoje Gowda, who wields some influence in this constituency, may ensure that a Vokkaliga candidate is fielded.
Udupi district has a large number of Billava community members, who have a population of about 2, 60,000. This community is known with the name, Ediga, in Chikkamagaluru. Bunt community stands second in number. They get identified with Vokkaliga community of Chikkamagaluru.
Caste plays a major role in deciding candidature of aspirants. Some sources feel that candidates who had lost in previous elections may not be preferred by the party this time. Some candidates who have lost earlier election seem to have forgotten the party workers thereafter. The district Congress is frantically searching for an able leader who can strengthen the organizational presence of the party and unite party workers, people feel.