It is virtually a cakewalk for Kateel, Shobha and Hegde

Supporters lift Nalin Kumar Kateel of BJP who won from Dakshina Kannada constituency. DH PHOTO

Sitting BJP MPs from coastal districts Nalin Kumar Kateel (Dakshina Kannada), Shobha Karandlaje (Udupi-Chikmagalur) and Anantkumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada) sailed to a comfortable victory and even succeeded in doubling the margin of their victory this time.  

Kateel completed a hat-trick and won the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha seat for the third time in a row by defeating Congress-JD(S) coalition candidate Mithun Rai with a margin of 2,74,261 votes (party-wise vote share about 57.57%). 

Karandlaje, by defeating former minister Pramod Madhwaraj (vote share over 63.3%) of JD(S)-Congress combine, created a record of sorts by becoming the only MP to be reelected from Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha Constituency after the delimitation of constituency in 2009.

Union minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Anantkumar Hegde was elected for a record sixth time from Uttara Kannada Loksabha constituency (vote share 68.1%).

This Lok Sabha election was virtually a cakewalk for these three sitting MPs who during the electioneering had faced flak from the opposition for not facilitating the implementation of development programmes in their respective constituencies. Even party workers had shared similar views at the thanksgiving meetings organised after the voting across coastal districts.

The party sources said the party workers had revealed how voters, during their door-to-door campaign, had abused the candidates for their poor performance. “Almost all voters had promised to vote for BJP as they wanted Modi as the next the prime minister,” the sources added. Even party workers, particularly in Uttara Kannada and Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency, were sore as the MPs were inaccessible to them.

The opposition has offered victory on a platter to the sitting MPs by failing to translate this general resentment against BJP’s candidates into votes in their favour.

Mithun Rai, Congress-JD(s) combine candidate, remained relatively unknown outside Mangaluru and Bantwal. A strategy by the combine to field candidates on JD(S) ticket in Udupi-Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada backfired miserably. Pramod Madhwaraj from Udupi and Anand Asnotikar from Uttara Kannada failed to draw votes from the Congress vote bank had to face defeat twice in succession (both were defeated in the Legislative Assembly election last year). Madhwaraj faced further trouble when a Congress leader Amruth Shenoy contested as a rebel candidate. 

While the elected MPs are facing a daunting task of meeting the expectations of voters, the Congress needs to come up with a road map on stopping the BJP juggernaut and retain the coastal districts which were once its strong bastions for decades.  

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