Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha seat, canopied by a thick forest cover in the state, is once again witnessing a strong wind of Hindutva blowing across the coastal region, and likely to provide another smooth ride to Union Minister of state for skill development, Ananth Kumar Hegde.
He is pitted against Anand Ashnotikar of JD(S) a joint JD(S)-Congress coalition candidate.
The Loka Sabha seat, which is blended with beautiful beaches in the west and thick forest range in the East, was once the Congress bastion. But with the advent of Anant kumar, turned a strong-hold of the Saffron BJP now.
Even though the District boasts of housing several major projects including that of Kaiga Nuclear Power project, Sea-Bird, Asia’s biggest Naval base, a mega hydel project at Kali and several other small and medium industries, it’s a common sight that a large number of people of the district, commutes daily to the neighboring Goa for livelihood.
The Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha seat, once considered as the strong Congress bastion, turned into a saffron party’s citadel, ever since Ananthakumar managed to wrest the seat from the Congress in 1996, after the murder of the Bhatkal BJP MLA, Dr. Chittaranjan.
With an exception in the defeat of 1999 Lok Sabha elections, which Hegde had lost to former Union minister Margaret Alva, the BJP has had the last laugh in all the subsequent General elections.
In the last 16 Elections, the Congress had won ten times, followed by BJP’s Ananthakumara on five occasions and is now seeking re-elections for the record sixth time, if he succeeds in the April-23 election.
Despite having a record of the Congress party’s strong base, the party had to concede the seat this time to its new-found Alliance JD(S), which had fielded
Former minister Asnotikar, who is facing a case related to violation of arm’s rule.
According to Chandrakanth Hegde, a resident of Sirsi town in Uttara Kannada district, the Congress by not fielding its candidate, seems to have lost the battle even before it began.
Even though the veteran Congress leader and the district in-charge minister RV Deshpande is seen drumming up the support for the JD(S) candidate, the kind of enthusiasm among the Congress workers is missing, he said.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has fielded Deshpande’s son, Prashanth Deshpande, which he lost by a huge margin, largely thanks to the Modi’s wave.
Among the eight Assembly segments, six are held by BJP and this must definitely help the controversial Ananth Kumar Hegde, an outspoken Hindutva votary, to have a smooth sail past the journey without any hassle, Shashikantha Hegde, a hotelier in Gokarna, said.
The decision to hand-over the Uttara Kannada seat to the JD(S), which hardly has any base in the district, also did not go well among the Congress workers, who seem to have lost in the election, Mohammed Ismail, who runs a grocery shop in Bhatkal town, said.
To highlight the issues of the degrading forest and environmental issues, Jnanapit awardee and a renowned Kannada writer, Theatre person Dr. Shivarama Karanth had contested in the 1989 election as an independent candidate and had lost it.
Former Chief Minister, and former union minister Ramakrishna Hegde, also had contested in the 1977 General elections and also lost it unable to make any dent to the Congress citadel.
The district is dotted with beautiful beaches and tourist places, but the lack of negligence shown by the successive governments, in creating infrastructures and other facilities, had led to a dismal picture of tourism activities in the district.
While there is no any sight of finding solutions to the threat of getting eviction from the forest due to Supreme Court order on Forest Rights Act, non-payment of compensation to a large number of evacuees of the Sea-bird project, and Konkan railway project, remained unresolved, and the crash of price of arecanut haunts the growers, the people are once again gearing up to exercise their franchise in the district.