MCC polls - Congress trying its luck with new and old faces
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Mar 4: It is election time for Mangalore City Corporation civic polls and candidates who are in the fray are sweating it out in the hot sun carrying out door to door campaign seeking votes. While BJP was the party that was in power for the last five years and is making all efforts to retain its control the Congress is even more resolute to wrest power from BJP and usher in its own rule.
There are in all 243 candidates in the fray from Congress, BJP, JD(S) & CPI (M) apart from 7 independent candidates. Both the Congress and BJP have fielded 60 candidates in the 60 wards while JD(S) has 48 candidates and CPI (M) has fielded 14 candidates. There are 61 independent candidates in the fray.
Ever since the Mangalore city municipality was upgraded to form a Corporation in 1983 Congress was in power till the BJP usurped it from them in 2007 sending Congress Corporators to sit in the opposition. Naturally the party is now itching to get back to power and is trying hard to convince the voters on the efficacy of bringing the Congress back into power. When political leaders are busy highlighting the failure of their opponent parties, the candidates of all parties are busy carrying out door-to-door campaign trying to convince the voters to vote for them. March 5, 2013, Tuesday being the last day for public campaigning, candidates are busy visiting homes to enlist their support.
The Congress which released its manifesto last week has been harping on providing better infrastructure to the people of the city. The party has promised a load of goodies to the people of Mangalore including a proposal to bring Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission project (JNNURM), if the party manages to win the elections.
Converting roads into concrete ones tops the agenda of the congress party which is also promised to modernize existing markets in Urwa, Urwa stores, Karngalpady, Bejai, Kadri, Carstreet, Vamanjoor, Jappinamagoru and Surathkal. Supply of proper drinking water, drainage facilities, flyovers, underpasses, adequate parking facilities, speedy disposal of new projects, setting up of vegetable and fish markets, promoting sports and cultural activities, tops the list of Congress manifesto. The Congress has also promised to convert the port city into a silicon valley by harnessing its full potential as an educational and healthcare hub.
The party has released ads in the local media that it would put a moratorium on the house tax for the next five years, would allow construction of house in 3 to 5 cent lands, will scrap the bill to privatize water billing apart from and taking a firm stand on privatization and saffronization.
The Congress had won 20 seats in the 2007 elections where BJP had romped home to victory with 34 seats. Today the general and political scenario in Mangalore is different from what it was in 2007 following certain developments in the intervening period of five years. The BJP is bogged down by internal strife at the state level and naturally BJP units are going through a period of uncertainty. But the district unit of Congress is no better either, as leaders have failed to patch up their differences and the party is unable to project itself as a unified force. It is going to be a tough fight for the candidates and the victory of margin in most wards will also be much less than what it was in the last elections.
Daijiworld.com spoke to some of the Congress candidates in the fray to elicit their views about their election prospects in the prevailing election scenario.
T Praveenchandra: Ward No 49 (Kankanady)
At 35, Praveenchandra is the youth face of the Congress party in these civic polls. Though young in age he is a veteran in politics as he has been in active politics since his student days. His opponent is Bhaskarchandra (58) of BJP, the sitting Corporator from the area. Praveenchandra who was the Youth Congress Block President is also the elected President of Youth Congress Mangalore South constituency and has vast political exposure to his credit. He has also been active in NSUI activities for a long time. There are only three candidates in the fray as Harish Kumar is contesting as a JD(S) candidate.
Praveenchandra says “today the Congress party has been focusing attention on youth and I am proud to say I am the youth face of the Congress. I will work for the betterment of the people and it is a promise that I am going to fulfill”. With his youthful personality Praveenchandra says he has been able to convince the youth, especially the new voters, to vote for him. He feels that this orientation of youngsters towards him would tilt the balance in his favor and with the support of youth he will be able to come out victorious.
Praveenchandra is bent upon providing better facilities to the people of the ward if he is elected. “I have a vision for the overall development of my ward and it would be a challenge to make this ward a model ward as per the vision I have’, he states.
Jacintha Vijaya Alfred: Ward no. 39 (Falnir)
Jacintha is contesting from Falnir ward and she is the sitting corporator from the area before its delimitation. She has been a two time corporator winning from the same before its delimitation. The ward is going to witness a four-cornered contest and Jacintha has to face the electorate along with two other candidates of her community. The BJP has fielded Indira Ravindra and JD(S) has fielded Cleta Noronha. Mary Gibbon is fighting elections from this ward as an independent candidate
The ward has about 3500 votes and Jacintha is aware that if the catholic community votes is split among the three candidates in the fray she is going to have a tough time. Therefore she has been focusing on highlighting the good work she has done as a corporator apart from convincing voters to ensure that they don’t waste their votes. In 2007 had put up a good show in a two-cornered contest.
She has finished 75% of her door to door campaign and is aware of the needs and requirements of her ward. She says “I have done my best for my ward and I am sure people will approve of my work by re-electing me”. At 42, Jacinatha is almost a veteran in local political scene with 15 years of experience and that is going to keep her in good stead in addition to the developmental work she has carried out in her ward.
Lancelot Pinto: Ward no 31 (Bejai)
Lancelot Pinto has been an indivisible part of Mangalore City Corporation since its formation in 1983. He has been a Corporator from Bejai ward five times and he is contesting for the sixth time which is a record of sort. What is more, he is confident of winning once again so that his association with the Mangalore City Corporation council would continue unabated for five more years. Lancelot Pinto (54) who made a foray into city corporation elections at a young age of 25, has always tasted success. But he has taken success in his strides and has worked hard for the welfare of the people says a resident of Bejai Sunitha Suvarna.
Lancelot who won by a margin of 500 votes in the 2007 elections is facing BJP candidate Jagadeesh Bejai and JD(S) candidate Alyster D Cunha in a three-cornered contest. In the last elections he faced his rival Santhosh Ullal of BJP and won despite many Congress stalwarts biting the dust when BJP swept the polls.
Like an old wine Lancelot Pinto has shown maturity with age and has handled his political career with aplomb. He has even contested assembly elections in 2004 as a Congress candidate against BJP’s Yogish Bhat. He also served as the Deputy Mayor of Mangalore and his name is doing the rounds as a possible candidate for the assembly seat as Congress candidate from Mangalore constituency.
Lancelot has the support of a sizeable number of Christians and Muslims and he has also won the confidence of people irrespective of caste, language or religion. That is where he scores over his opponents. Over the years Lancelot has built a personal rapport with the residents of Bejai and residents say he is always available to them to address their grievances. Lancelot has won the admiration and appreciation of the people of his ward and he is expected to sail through once again in this election.
Naveen Robert D Souza: Ward No. 38 (Bendore)
Naveen D Souza is a two time corporator and is contesting for the third time from the same ward. Naveen is facing a three-cornered contest with BJP candidate Thimmappa Poojary and JD(S) candidate Harris Sequeira as his opponents. In the last elections Naveen managed to get 1002 votes as against his rivals Praveen Chandra Nayak of BJP who got 440 votes and Alwyn Pinto of JD(S) who manged to poll 414 votes. The ward has about 6000 voters and Naveen has the twin challenges of convincing the people on the need to come out and vote apart from persuading them to vote for him.
Naveeen banks on his performance and achievements as a corporator to strike a chord among the people of the ward. His campaign is positive as he is highlighting the achievements to his credit rather talking about the failures of his opponents. Naveen takes credit for widening and completion of road up to ESI hospital, beautification of the Kankanady bus station and also for providing senior citizen’s facility and public toilets there, declaration of no parking area from Vas Lane 1st cross to Kalpana road, asphalting of Lobo Lane and interlocking facility on Kamath Nursing home road, Vase Lane, Kalpana road and Arya Samaj Road.
Naveen says his top priority is to provide cleanliness of the area, ensure proper water supply and proper drainage facility to the people of the area. “I want to ensure that garbage is cleaned in a systematic way. On my initiative a resolution has been passed in the corporation to give tenders for garbage collection for a period of seven years instead of the annual contract. This comes in handy as the contractor is able to have permanent employees to carry out the job”, he contends.
Asha G D Silva: Ward No. 48 (Valencia)
A first time contestant Asha D Silva is a bundle of energy as she is braving the rigors of campaigning and also her experienced opponents. It is going to be a challenging task for Asha as the ward is facing a five-cornered contest. BJP has fielded Prabha Malini who had given a tough fight to Jacintha Voremya (sitting corporator of the ward). Jacintha Voremya had managed to win the elections by a slender margin of 78 votes in 2007. Apart from JD (S) candidate Sujatha Sandeep, Asha is facing a challenger in BSR Congress candidate Flossy Pinto and Congress rebel candidate Flavia Sequeira.
Asha is not completely new to the civic body elections. In 2007 she has actively campaigned for the Congress candidate Jacintha Voremya and was the vice president of the Nagori booth of the party.
Asha is quite adept in learning the rudiments of elections and when the voters of Valencia had a reality check on the candidates of this ward through an open interaction programme yesterday along with all other candidates, Asha was able to assert and create quite a good impression on the people of the ward.
Asha says she is the youth face of the Congress and her election to the council would infuse fresh blood in the City Corporation Council. Now her focus is to tell the voters what she is going to do if she is elected. “I am trying to convince the voters that I will do justice to them if I am given a chance to serve. At the same time I have the additional responsibility of ensuring that our own community votes are not divided as it is going to benefit a third party”, she reasons. If she succeeds in doing so and if she manages to woo the new young voters Asha’s road to success will be much easier.
Sabitha Misquith: Ward no 34 (Shivabagh)
Just 33 votes had differentiated the winner Gretta Rebello of Congress who polled 742 votes as against the 709 won by rival BJP candidate. The constituency which is reserved for women has four candidates in the field this time. BJP has fielded Sandhya Venkatesh and JD(S) has played the spoilsport by fielding July D Souza. Geetha Shetty is the BSR Congress candidate fighting as an independent candidate.
For Sabitha was an aspiring candidate for the ticket in 2007 but had to give up when the party favoured Gretta Rebello. However, she is not a novice to the nitty-gritty of elections as she has been working as the secretary of the party in the ward for several years. Sabitha, an independent self-employed woman, is quite an effervescent lady and eager to do her bit for the people of her ward. Being young, she says she has the energy and the determination to respond to the people 24X7. She is well aware of the task on her hand as the performance of the sitting corporator has come in for lot of flake and Sabitha has earned the wrath of the disgruntled people of the area. But not the one to give up, she has been busy campaigning convincing people about her well-defined goals.
Sabitha is quite e-savvy she tried to reach out to the younger generation through the social networking site facebook which is the cheapest and the best way to reach out to the younger lot. Sabitha says she has been inspired by the political activities of Rahul Gandhi who has been encouraging youngsters to join the party to herald change. Sabitha should be able to convince the people of her ward and take precautions to ensure that the votes of her own community are not split so that the seat doesn’t go to her opponents on a platter.
T K Naseema: Ward No 60 (Bengre)
This ward is in the news because it has the highest number of candidates in the fray among the 60 wards coming under Mangalore City Corporation. T K Naseema was one among the two names proposed by the members of the Kasba Bengre ward and Naseema was chosen as the party candidate. The sitting corporator of the ward is Shakunthala D Karkera, who is contesting as a rebel candidate this time as she has been denied the ticket by the party by the BJP.
The BJP has fielded Meera Karkera who is taking on the might of a horde of Muslim women who are either contesting on party tickets or as independents. Apart from Naseema the ward has eight more candidates trying their luck in the elections. Meera Karkera (BJP), Ruksana (JD)(S), Safina (CPI)(M) Rukhiya (BSR), Fouzia (KJP), Sayida (Welfare Party of India), Rubina (IUML) and Shakunthala D Karkera (independent) are the candidates in the fray. Needless to say there is a rat race among these women to catch the voter’s attention and romp home to victory. Naseema says with fiducial confidence that she has been able to convince the voters during her door-to-door campaign that they need to vote for enmasse so that she gets an opportunity to serve the people of the ward.
On the Election Trail