Mangalore: Will BJP retain power in City Municipal Corporation?
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Feb 21: The elections for the seven urban local bodies (ULB’s) of Dakshina Kannada are scheduled to be held on March 7 and all the major political parties are feeling the heat of the initial trouble that affects almost all of them. In fact none of the political parties wanted the elections to the civic bodies just before the impending assembly elections, for the fear of the results having an adverse impact on the forthcoming assembly elections.
Leaders of various political parties were united in citing many reasons on the need to postpone these elections but their machinations did not work. Their contention was that if delimitation rule is to be applied based on 2011 census there would be more wards to contest. The Supreme Court held that elections should be conducted based on the parameters under which 2007 elections were held. Now these political parties have been forced to face the electorate half-heartedly.
In all, there are 189 seats to be won in the seven ULB’s namely - Mangalore City Corporation 60 wards, Puttur Town Municipality 27 wards, Moodbidri Town Municipal Council 27 wards, Ullal Town Municipal Council wards 27 wards, Bantwal Town Municipality 23 wards, Belthangady Town Panchayat 11 wards, and Sullia Town Panchayat 18 wards. While the BJP was in power in Mangalore, Puttur, Belthangady and in Bantwal (though BJP is in minority it is in power for ‘political reasons’), Congress was in power in the remaining three ULB’s. The elections to the ULB’s will be like a precursor to the assembly elections to the state which are likely to be held in May this year. Therefore, the results of these elections will have far-reaching implications for all major political parties.
Will Anti-incumbency factor work for Congress?
In Mangalore City Corporation Council there are 60 wards and Bharatiya Janata Party which had won 34 out of the 60 wards in 2007 elections and came to power for the first time ending 2 decades of Congress rule, is facing some rough feathers in this area, considered to be a stronghold of RSS-BJP. With the five-year term of the BJP coming to an end on February 20, the government has given the administration of the corporation to deputy commissioner N Prakash from today (February 21). Additional Secretary M E Shivalinga Murthy has been appointed as the observer for the elections to the Mangalore City Corporation. While the BJP had won 34 seats Congress had won 21, JD(S) and CPI (M) one seat each. Four Independents were also elected to the council and later one of them Santhosh, a Congress rebel from Panambur Bengre, had joined the BJP taking its tally to 35.
The Congress party leaders of Dakshina Kannada are trying hard to present a picture of being united forgetting all political and personal differences. However, despite their best efforts, the fight within the various leaders of the party has come out in the open. As of now, it looks the BJP is having the head start as the party has already come out with the first list of 33 candidates for contesting in Mangalore City Corporation. The Congress list is expected to be ready by tomorrow evening (February 22) as the party is still reeling under the ‘Ashraf revolt’. This open rebellion has brought to the fore the infighting within the Congress, which is yet to sink in.
Though MLA U T Khader has said that they have been able to ‘bandage the wound’, the dressing may come out any time exposing a much bigger wound which may not heal without a major surgery. Janardhana Poojary who is in charge of the Congress elections for the seven ULB’s, was taken aback by Asharaf’s accusations of he (Poojary) being anti-Muslim for excluding him from the list of candidate selection committee. Sources within the Congress say that when the committee has 13 Muslims as members, Ashraf’s accusation is baseless and there is some ulterior motive behind such open outbursts. It is a known fact that there is no love lost between Poojary and Ashraf. If the Congress is really serious about increasing its tally from the 21 it won in 2007 it has to fight as a cohesive force to face the might of the BJP which has a committed following in Mangalore.
BJP harping on Development
The BJP is the first to come out with 33 names of candidates in its first list. It has fielded only 14 candidates who were sitting councilors. Monappa Bhandary, who is in charge of the 7 ULB’s, says the party has denied tickets to some existing councilors, who ‘chose’ not to contest to make way for new faces. However, it cannot be denied that the skirmishes within the party have resulted in some of the sitting councilors being denied tickets during these elections. When asked the impact of infighting within the party in the civic elections Monappa Bhandary says “We have only differences but no infighting”.
Though BJP is putting up a brave face it is yet to come out of the bungle it had found itself in when the party failed to elect its candidate for Mayor’s post despite enjoying majority. The party had to pay a heavy price as Congress candidate Gulzar Banu was the lucky candidate to be elevated to the coveted post of Mayor. For the BJP embarrassment was too much to offer any credible defense.
The BJP in the state is in total disarray with the formation of KJP and without the support of Reddy Brothers and its impact will certainly be felt in the civic elections. The presence of JD (S) is insignificant to make any difference and even KJP may end up with one seat if Mariamma Thomas is able to pull out a victory. Nagaraja Shetty and Sadananda Shetty who have joined JD(S), may not make much of a difference to their party’s fortune in these civic elections.
The BJP is once again trying woe the voters on the developmental plank. The party is taking full credit for providing good roads, regular water and electricity supply and they also take credit for a clean Mangalore. The party has made it clear that it is seeking votes on the developmental work it has carried out in the last five years.
From 2007 to 2013, the scenario has changed drastically and one cannot say exactly at this juncture which party has the ability to come to power. In the last five years Mangalore witnessed some of the shameful incidents like the attack on places of worship, the pub and the home stay attack and there have been instances of the so called moral police taking law in their own hands.
Whether BJP’s harping on development work will work against these issues, remains to be seen.