Pramod Madhwaraj will now face off against incumbent MP Shobha Karandlaje of the BJP from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru.

Congress Pramod Madhwaraj to contest Udupi-Chikkamagaluru on JDS ticket
news Elections 2019 Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 18:57
Whether it is an example of coalition politics or a compromise made due to it, Congress leader Pramod Madhwaraj will contest as the coalition's candidate from the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency on a JD(S) ticket.

Pramod, who is also a former minister, confirmed the development after weeks of speculation over the fate of the coalition's candidate from the constituency. "I am the Congress-JD(S) joint coalition candidate contesting on a JD(S) symbol," he told TNM.

This means that Pramod will now face off against incumbent MP Shobha Karandlaje of the BJP from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru.

The Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency was formed out of the Udupi and Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituencies during the delimitation in 2008. It includes eight of the 10 assembly constituencies in the two neighboring districts of Udupi and Chikkamagaluru. Udupi is a coastal district while parts of Chikkamagaluru district comprise of the Western Ghats mountain range. Apart from varying topography, there are also differences in trade, culture and issues affecting people in the two districts.

The Congress has a history of representing and winning elections in both the erstwhile Udupi and Chikkamagaluru constituencies. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had contested from Chikkamagaluru in the 1978 bye-polls.

But when the Congress and the JD(S) sealed their pre-poll alliance on March 13 by confirming that the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency will have a contestant from the JD(S), it sparked uproar among Congress leaders from the two adjoining districts. The Udupi and Chikkamagaluru district units of the party wrote to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), the All-India Congress Committee General Secretary KC Venugopal, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda asking for the decision to be revoked and allow a Congress leader to contest from Udupi.

After a week of frantic conversations between Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and the JD(S) leaders in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, the party decided to approach Pramod to contest on a JD(S) ticket overlooking its own party leaders like MLC Bhoje Gowda.

But the decision to give the seat to the JD(S) has come as a surprise to many Congress workers in Udupi since the JD(S) has very little presence in the coastal district. MA Gafoor, a Congress leader from Udupi, says, "We did not expect this decision. We have grassroots level organisations and a significant presence in the Gram Panchayats, Zilla Panchayats, Municipalities. There is also a history of the Congress party being involved in people's movements whether it is in favour of the fishermen community, farmer community, youth, women, areca nut farmers of Chikkamagaluru, the people campaigning for a railway network and so on. The people have expressed their faith in the Congress in this region.”

Gafoor's words are echoed by the party's Chikkamagaluru district unit president DL Vijaykumar. "It should be a Congress candidate contesting from our constituency. But we will fight in spite of the situation. We have to, don't we?"

2014 Lok Sabha Election Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Constituency Result

Name

Party

Votes

Shobha Karandlaje

BJP

581168

K Jayaprakash Hegde

INC

399525

V. Dhananjaya Kumar

JD(S)

14895

'Congress will suffer in the long run'

Meanwhile a Congress leader who did not wish to be named stated that the decision would damage the party in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru for a long time.

"When a Congress leader fights on a JD(S) symbol, Congress will be divided over this. JD(S) will benefit from the work of our workers and will also get a lot of votes in this constituency," the leader adds.

He further added that there was no presence of JD(S) in local bodies in Udupi and its presence was limited to two Legislative Council members from Chikkamagaluru - Bhojegowda and his brother Dharmegowda.

Pramod is expected to be confirmed as the JD(S) candidate from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru and the two parties will launch a joint campaign to wrest the seat away from Shobha. "We can adjust with JD(S) and fight this election. It is the Congress party that has to work for the win in Udupi while the JD(S) and Congress will combine in Chikkamagaluru. It will be tougher for sure but it could still end in a win," says Vijaykumar.

 

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