BJP candidates defeat Congress nominees by six votes

Upendra Nayak and Mamatha R. Shetty of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were elected the president and the vice-president of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat (ZP), respectively, here on Friday.

Mr. Nayak and Ms. Shetty defeated Congress candidates Diwakar Kundar and Supreeta D. Shetty, respectively, by six votes. Mr. Nayak and Ms. Shetty got 15 votes each, while Mr. Kundar and Ms. Shetty got nine votes each.

Mr. Nayak and Ms. Shetty will be in office till June 8, 2014.

The BJP has 16 members and the Congress has nine in the 25-member zilla panchayat. One BJP member, Sunita R. Poojary, was absent during Friday’s meeting.

Of the 16 BJP members, half owed their allegiance to the former Kundapur MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty, who resigned from the BJP in December, 2012. Ms. Shetty also owed her allegiance to Mr. Shetty.

The election to the posts of the president and vice-president of the zilla panchayat were to be held on October 4, 2012. But there was a split in the BJP with eight members, owing allegiance to Mr. Shetty, asking for separate seating arrangement.

The rebel faction floated its candidates — Babu Shetty and Prakash Mendon — for the post of the president and Ms. Shetty for the post of vice-president.

However, neither the members of the official nor the rebel factions of the BJP turned up for the meeting on October 4, 2012. Regional Commissioner M.V. Jayanti postponed the meeting to October 12, 2012, citing lack of quorum.

The official and rebel factions of the BJP patched up by October 12. But the Congress approached the High Court on various issues relating to the election process. The High Court dismissed the writ petition filed by the Congress on January 3, 2013. Finally, the election was on Friday.The election of Mr. Nayak and Ms. Shetty was a smooth affair on Friday after two BJP ZP members owing allegiance to Mr. Shetty, Babu Shetty and Prakash Mendon, withdrew their nomination papers. Indira Shetty of the BJP, who had filed her nomination papers for the post of vice-president, on October 4, 2012, withdrew them.

Promises

Upendra Nayak, the newly elected president of Udupi Zilla Panchayat (ZP), said on Friday that he will give importance to the implementation of drinking-water projects and construction of roads in rural areas of the district. Addressing presspersons after the election, Mr. Nayak said that last summer there had been a scarcity of drinking water in the district. This time, action would be taken in advance to reduce the problem.He would also give priority to completing pending projects, estimated at Rs. 309 crore, pertaining to all the government departments in the remaining three months of the current fiscal.

He would also hold monthly videoconferences with presidents of gram panchayat and Panchayat Development Officers to review the progress of development projects. When asked about factionalism in the BJP, he said that there was total unity in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He had the support of all the 16 BJP Zilla Panchayat Members. The Congress was responsible for the delay in the elections to the posts of president and vice-president, Mr. Nayak said.

Mr. Nayak (62), an undergraduate, is a grassroots politician. He served as a Member of Parkala Mandal Panchayat and was elected the president of Yembattu Badagabettu Gram Panchayat three times. He has been elected to the Zilla Panchayat for the second time and represents the Hiriyadka constituency.

The newly-elected vice-president of Zilla Panchayat, Mamatha R. Poojary, said: “There is no factionalism in the BJP. The former Kundapur MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty is my leader and I will always seek his guidance. I will never go against Mr. Shetty.”

Ms. Poojary (37), also an undergraduate, served as a Member and later as the vice-president of Shankarnarayana Gram Panchayat, before being elected as the ZP Member from Siddapura.

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