Veteran takes on political novice in Baindur

Maoist-infested areas await development

They were with the Congress for a long time. But they are locking horns on different party tickets with totally different ideologies in the May 5 elections from Baindur Assembly constituency, where voter apathy is more evident than any other segment in Udupi district.

Many an eyebrow was raised when the BJP denied the ticket to sitting MLA Laxminarayana and fielded a greenhorn in Sukumar Shetty against battle-scarred K Gopal Poojary. Initially, there was a threat of rebellion in the BJP but Laxminarayana finally decided to stay put in the party.

Besides the two, there are JD(S) and JD(U) candidates and eight independents in the fray.
With many problem like Maoist issue, unabated sand mining and poor implementation of development activities plaguing the constituency, the candidates are facing a tough time in wooing the voters. There is water shortage in many places.

Keen observers in the constituency feel that the race is going to be tough though Sukumar is new to electoral politics. Sukumar told Deccan Herald that he was totally unhappy with the Congress.  Gopal Poojary was an MLA for nearly 13 years and has done nothing to the constituency. He totally ignored the development aspects.

“I may not have political experience. But, I have my own reasons to fight. People should once have a look at Kollur Mookambika temple for the development that has taken place in the temple during my tenure as Dharmadharshi. That itself makes a difference. I implement my promises.  The Congress has proved to be a failure here,” Sukumar, an educationist, said. 

This is countered by Gopal Poojary, who is confident of winning. He said youth are totally against the BJP’s corrupt governance. He said “the BJP in five years has done nothing to develop the constituency. The Congress has no threat from the BJP, since BJP votes are also divided between the BJP and the KJP. The BJP candidate has no experience and the secular votes will not be divided in the constituency.”

Baindur assembly constituency has a blend of Malnad and Coastal culture and is famous for Kollur Mookambika and Shaneshwara temples. After the delimitation of the constituency in 2008, Naxal infested areas like Shankaranarayan, Siddhapur, Hosangadi, Hallihole, Gangolli, Tallur, Neralakatte, Kurkunje and Ajree were included in the constituency.

The assembly constituency comprises 65 villages and 39 hoblis. The Congress has won eight times and the BJP has won twice. The constituency which consists of remote villages has remained totally underdeveloped, The naxal package to take up development work has not reached the people.

Lack of connecting roads and no electricity is the main problem. Houses in Maoist-infested areas are in a pathetic condition and the residents have not  received title deeds.  The residents have been demanding footbridge across the rivulets to cross during monsoon. However, the promises have not been fulfilled so far.

  There are several ‘kudrus’ in the constituency which remains totally disconnected from the external world during monsoon.

Though there are opportunities to promote tourism, they have not been tapped. Ottinenne and Tuddali falls are amazing tourist destinations in the constituency.

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