Sullia: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to retain its traditional stronghold in Sullia in the forthcoming assembly election despite a strong undercurrent in favour of Congress. While BJP is banking on series of victories since last elections and tumultuous response it received during the recent Parivarthan Rally, the opposition Congress is banking on anti-incumbency, its reliable voter base and the positive response the party received during the recently launched door-to-door campaign (Mane Manege Congress).
When Congress party swept the last assembly polls in Dakshina Kannada district by bagging 7 out of the 8 assembly seats, sitting MLA Angara withered the storm and managed to register a win by a margin of 1320 votes. Ever since, BJP has strengthened its stranglehold in Sullia by winning all elections, including its massive contribution towards MP Nalin Kumar Kateel’s victory in the 2014 Loksabha elections in terms of largest vote share in the district.
BJP managed to grab 23 out of 25 gram panchayats to prove its mettle in 2015. Subsequently, it won all the four seats in the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) elections and bagged 9 of the 13 seats in Taluk Panchyat (TP) elections and thereby stormed to power.
Its victory run continued unabated with the party registering victory in 11 of the 13 seats in the recent Agricultural Produce marketing Cooperative (APMC) elections with one candidate getting elected unopposed to take its tally to 12. It may be recalled that despite its loss in local body elections everywhere in 2013, BJP had managed to retain power in Sullia CMC.
In spite of the backlash in other constituencies, BJP has only grown in strength in its traditional bastion Sullia and the recent Parivarthan Rally once again proved its political ascendancy with the town turning into a "Sea of Saffron" with more than 10000 party activists taking part in the rally. The worried BJP state and national leaders over the poor response the rally received in Bengaluru and other parts on its way to Dakshina Kannada, received a shot in the arm watching the surging crowds supporting the party of their liking. State BJP President B S Yeddyurappa was taken aback by the response and made a mention about it in his address, thanking the people of Sullia.
Despite BJP's Goliath strength here, the opposition Congress is not leaving any stone unturned to register a victory in the constituency to upset the BJP apple cart. The enthusiasm in the party cadres has not taken a dip despite several defeats and it still believes in its traditional vote base in areas adjoining Puttur constituency, where it has considerable influence. The recent door–to-door campaign launched statewide by the party, ( Mane Manege Congress) has received wide support from the people and the party believes the undercurrent will ensure its candidate’s victory in assembly election. The party took a massive rally from Sullia to Sampaje to mark black day to coincide with demonetisation anniversary on November 8. The response received in these campaigns has revitalised party cadres and the party hopes to carry on the momentum in the days to come.
JDS, SDPI presence worries Congress!
The decision of JDS and SDPI to field its own candidates will dent the chances of Congress more than of BJP, though there is sizeable presence of Gowda community voters with Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda hailing from the same constituency. Locals feel the religion, caste factors will not play a dominant role but the party’s influence alone will tilt the balance in the end. However ,sizeable number of votes garnered by JDS will affect the chances of both BJP and Congress candidates but SDPI‘s growth will only dent Congress, they feel.
Angara may hang his boots and Dr. Raghu a doubtful starter?
Despite representing Sullia constituency for five successive terms in the state assembly, party’s sitting MLA Angara is not keen on contesting this time, say party insiders. Probably, Angara, a leader with tremendous popularity wants to hang his boots during days of glory! In such a case, former ZP member Baghirati Murulya, TP President Cheniya Kaltadka, former TP president Shankar Peraje and former TP members Raghuram Angadimajalu and Sanjay Kumar become prime contenders for BJP. With opposition candidate Dr. Raghu tasting defeat thrice in the past, too is not keen on the contest, despite strong sympathy wave ruling in his favour this time. In such a case, CMC member K Gokuldas, Nandaraj Sankesh and Narayana Jattipalya get an opportunity to their hats in the election ring. Apart from these, there are many other contenders ready for contest with both Angara and Dr. Raghu not revealing their future plans. The equations may change in case of a party candidate from Sullia manages to grab Puttur seat like in the past. It may be recalled the present union minister from Sullia represented Puttur constituency twice and then went on to become state chief minister before entering union cabinet led by PM Modi in 2014 after BJP’s resounding victory in the Loksabha elections 2014.
Despite BJP bragging on the development agenda, its inability to mitigate the woes of areca growers ridden by plant diseases, farmer problems are likely to damage its prospects. Pathetic condition of rural roads, the 110 KV substation work pending for ages may rule against the BJP, say people in the constituency. However, both the parties will bank upon the programmes of their respective governments at the centre and state to take advantage as election nears.
The victory wave favouring BJP only enhances its chances of winning the constituency once again with opposition Congress not ready to give up the fight easily with Sullia heading for three corner or multi-corner contest in the forthcoming assembly elections in 2018.
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