News headlines

from our political correspondent in Bangalore (MB) - Friday, Feb 17 - 7 am

Bangalore, Feb 17: So many names have been making rounds during the last few days regarding the likely representation for DK and Udupi districts in the new coalition cabinet.

The names being mentioned were of Puttur MLA Shakuntala Shetty (being the sole woman legislator from the coastal districts), Sullia MLA Angara (on the strength of being a SC MLA,having won from there several times running) and Nandavar Yogish Bhat from Mangalore, who too has won consecutively, with the credit of having defeated in the first attempt none other than Blasius D'Souza, a Congress heavyweight and former minister at that. The name of Suratkal MLA J Krishna Palemar was also floating around.

Exclusive caricature of Nagaraj Shetty by Harini

With the expansion of the cabinet sure to come about by noon of Friday, February 17, the name of Bailumeginamane Nagaraj Shetty appears to have emerged as the final candidate by Thursday night. Shetty is a first-time MLA, having won from Bantwal constituency.

Sources close to BJP higher-ups in the state capital told Daijiworld that the fact that Shetty's contribution to the party funds during the last elections might have weighed heavily in favour of him. The party is certainly looking for funds for elections in the near future and having Shetty as a minister would be certainly helpful in having ready access to funds. Shetty is known to have risen up with the help of a steady shipping and iron ore transport business.

But those lobbying for Suratkal MLA Palemar insist his contribution to party funds in the last elections cannot be discounted. Palemar is said to own a flourishing real estate trade and educational institutions in Mangalore. With reports that Suratkal constituency is likely to be merged with the adjoining constituencies and Shetty's unsatisfactory record in developmental works in Bantwal, both are eyeing the Mangalore constituency for the next assembly election.

That could see Nandavar Yogish Bhat, given his soft-spoken, mild nature and also his lack of lobbying tactics, failing to get a party ticket the next time around. If Shetty indeed wins a berth in the cabinet on Friday, his getting a party ticket from Mangalore in the next assembly election appears to be certain, said informed BJP sources here.

Sources also said that with Nagaraj Shetty's background in the cooperative sector and experience as director and president of the multistate cooperative Central Areca and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (CAMPCO), he had high chances of getting the cooperation portfolio.


From this district, there are at least three contenders - Udupi MLA Raghupati Bhat, Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar and MLC Dr V S Acharya. If youth is given importance, either Sunil Kumar or Bhat will hold a chance. But Dr Acharya, the old warhorse who has already held high posts like the state vice president of the party besides being an MLC, appears to have succeeded in his lobbying.

Reports not only from the state capital but also from Mangalore and Udupi said Dr Acharya has already circulated his biodata to the media a few days ago, being confident of being made a minister.

BJP blues

With so many contenders from BJP for ministerial berths, a familiar joke going around in party circles is that most of the contenders have bought or got stitched new safari suits and kurtas, to cope with the situation of being suddenlly made a minister. Sources also said women MLAs, although being a very few in number, have not lagged behind and have already bought expensive Conjeevaram saris.

But there was another angle to the entire situation. The BJP party bosses are worried about another scenario likely to emerge. With the party tasting for the first time, with so many contenders around and with berths limited to about 10 each from JD(S) and BJP, discontent and disappointment is sure to crop up leading to dissension in the near future.

Although the BJP is a cadre-based party and known for discipline, it has been proved all over the country that when it comes to matters of power, all parties have the same problem.

So the upbeat mood in the party about coming to power is also tempered by kind of a caution over likely turmoil in the near future, said informed sources.


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