Will Congress retain its bastion in Mangaluru?

Will Congress retain its bastion in Mangaluru?

Minister for Health and Family Welfare U T Khader

Located on the shores of the Arabian Sea and the Nethravathi river, Mangaluru Assembly constituency is famous for its pilgrim centres of Dargah Shariff of Hazrat Sayyid Mohammed Shareef Madani, Someshwara Temple and St Joseph Vaz Shrine at Mudipu.

The history of the constituency is etched in the history of India with Queen Abbakka, who had ruled the region in the 16th century and fought the Portuguese.

At the same time, three universities (one conventional and two deemed to be), four medical colleges, two dental colleges and two engineering colleges make this constituency an education hub and attract the attention of people from different parts of the world.

The constituency was referred to as ‘Mangalore 2’ when the election procedures began in Karnataka decades ago and for the first four elections. In 1978, it was renamed Ullal and in 2008, it was renamed Mangalore, after the delimitation of constituencies.

Of the last 14 elections (including the by-election of 2007), right from the first elections in 1957 to the elections in 2013, the Congress has won 11 times, while the BJP has managed to win only once and the Left parties CPI and CPM have registered victory twice. In all the 14 times, except in 1957, the Congress has fielded only Muslim candidates.

In this election, there are five candidates in fray – U T Khader (Congress), Santhosh Kumar Rai Boliyaru (BJP), K Ashraf (JDS), Nithin Kumar (CPM) and Usman (MEP).

The 2008 polls had as many as nine candidates, of which five, including U T Khader, were Muslims. While Khader secured 50,718 votes, the other Muslim candidates together could secure only 4,622 votes.

The 2013 polls witnessed 15 candidates, of which nearly a dozen were Muslims. Of the 1,24,927 votes polled, Khader secured 69,450 while BJP candidate Chandrahas Ullal won 40,339 votes followed by SDPI candidate Mohammed Akram Hassan 4,808 votes.

Need for integrated drinking water projects, a full-fledged market, a full-fledged bus stand and toilets facility at Talapady (which is the border of Karnataka and Kerala), a fire station, stadium, Abbakka Bhavana, incomplete work on widening of the National Highway 66 (Nanthoor to Talapady), unscientific disposal of solid waste, lack of a permanent solution to check sea erosion as the work under ADB-funded project of Karnataka Coastal Protection and Management Investment Programme is incomplete, and silt in river Nethravathi at Pavoor, Amblamogaru and Harekala areas are some of the issues bothering the constituency.

In addition, over 100 Ashraya houses built at Ombathukere in Ullal have not been incompleted and not distributed among the poor since several years, owing to the court case.

‘Trust in voters’

Khader, the sitting MLA and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, asserts that he is not unduly worried. He said, “Like last time, in these elections too, the voters will show whom they stand by. In spite of the false propaganda against me, I am confident that the voters will chose development works.”

In his appeal letter to the voters, Khader has promised drinking water project, development of road from Thokkottu to Melkar, development of the Thokkottu bus stand, stadium, promotion of tourism, and KSRTC buses to rural areas, among others.

The BJP candidate Santhosh Kumar Boliyar said, “The constituency lacks an ITI, a full-fledged hospital and drinking water projects. Those who represented the constituency were engaged in communal politics.”

On the other hand, JD(S) candidate K Ashraf has served as Mangaluru Mayor. He was in the Congress till recently and hopes to defeat the Congress candidate in the current elections.

Will the voters of the constituency give a chance to other political parties or retain the credit for being the forte of the Congress – this is a million dollar question.

Number of voters

Male: 93,708

Female: 96,653

Total: 1,90,361