Karnataka: BJP banks on development agenda, Congress dishes out regional issues

Until the delimitation exercise in 2008, Udupi and Chikkamagaluru were separate Lok Sabha constituencies.
Flags of BJP and Congress parties. Image used for representation.
Flags of BJP and Congress parties. Image used for representation. (Photo | PTI)

UDUPI: Though local issues are not surprisingly resonating much during the campaigning of political parties in the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency this time, people are heard talking about the demand charter they have in their minds when their opinions are sought on how the battleground should look like in the ensuing election.

BJP has been on a winning streak here since 2004 general elections and the only exception is the by-election in 2012 when Congress’ K Jayaprakash Hegde won. This constituency has been a strong bastion of BJP as the Hindutva factor, coupled with Modi wave since 2014 general election, has enabled the saffron party clinch resounding victories.

Until the delimitation exercise in 2008, Udupi and Chikkamagaluru were separate Lok Sabha constituencies. In 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996 general elections, Congress’ Oscar Fernandes ruled the roost in the Udupi Lok Sabha seat. Then came the election in 1998 when BJP’s IM Jayaram Shetty won and broke Congress’ fortress. Congress’ Vinay Kumar Sorake wrested the seat in 1999. However, BJP’s Manorama Madhwaraj won the seat in the 2004 general elections.

After the delimitation exercise, BJP’s Sadananda Gowda won in 2009 in the newly formed Udupi-Chikkamagalur constituency. Though in the 2012 by-election, Congress’ Jayaprakash Hegde clinched the seat, BJP’s Shobha Karandlaje became MP from here in 2014 and 2019 elections with impressive margins. The erstwhile Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency witnessed support of voters for Congress.

Electoral history shows Congress candidates winning in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989 and 1991. Janata Dal’s BL Shankar broke the Congress juggernaut and won in the 1996 election. Then in 1998, 1999 and 2004 elections, BJP’s Srikantappa emerged victorious. Chikkamagaluru had drawn a large contingent of media persons from various parts of the country and abroad when former PM Indira Gandhi contested in the high-octane October 1978 by-election that gave her a political rebirth.

Cut to 2024, drinking water issues and unemployment problems still persist. Migration of educated youth to Gulf countries and other places abroad and metropolitan cities in search of jobs, non-starter of environment-friendly industries, impending merger of Konkan Railway with Indian Railways for better railway connectivity have been the bane in the coastal parts, while in Chikkamagaluru, the interest of coffee and areca nut growers are the poll issues.

BJP candidate Kota Srinivas Poojary is wooing voters promising them development in the constituency, while Congress’ K Jayaprakash Hegde says local leadership, read new MP to be elected, should possess the ability to solve the problem and voters should consider this point when they cast their votes. It is said that though BJP is trying to retain the seat by riding on development and Modi wave, Congress is amassing resources to give a tough fight to BJP.

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