Party facing a dearth of winnable leaders in Daskhina Kannada

For the May 5 Assembly elections, the Congress has fielded a former BJP MLA — who had fought against it four times earlier — in Daskhina Kannada. It is the second such instance, as in the last Assembly elections the Congress chose to field another former BJP and the erstwhile Janata Dal MLA who had also fought against it four times.

The candidate fielded in this election is T. Shakuntala Shetty, who as a candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), fought against B. Ramanath Rai, now president of Dakshina Kannada Congress Committee and MLA, twice from Bantwal Assembly constituency in 1994 and 1999 elections and lost. Ms. Shetty as a BJP candidate fought against the Congress from Puttur in 2004 and won. As an independent candidate, Ms. Shetty fought against both the Congress and the BJP from Puttur Assembly segment in the last elections and lost. She is contesting the election for the fifth time now from Puttur.

It is said that the Congress chose to field former BJP MLAs as it was facing a dearth of winnable candidates.

In the first such instance in the district in 2008 Assembly elections, the Congress inducted former MLA of the BJP and former MLA of the erstwhile Janata Dal from Belthangady K. Vasanth Bangera, who also had fought against the Congress four times. The Congress fielded him from Belthangady and won. He had fought against the Congress in Belthangady as the BJP candidate in 1983 and 1985 elections and as a candidate of the then Janata Dal in 1994 elections. Mr. Bangera had won in those three elections. He had fought against the Congress as an independent candidate in 1989 and had lost. Mr. Bangera is contesting the election for the sixth time.

On the other hand, president of the District Congress Committee Mr. Rai is contesting the election for the seventh time from Bantwal.

Five-time winner

He won five times — 1985, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2008 — and lost the election in 2004 to B. Nagaraja Shetty of the BJP.

In the 2008 election, Mr. Rai faced Mr. Shetty of the BJP again. He won the election with a margin of 1,251 votes against Mr. Shetty.

Mr. Rai was Minister for Transport and Ports in the S.M. Krishna-led Cabinet in the State. He was also the district in-charge minister.

The BJP has fielded Rajesh Naik, a farmer of Oddoor Farms, to take on Mr. Rai in Bantwal in this election. Both are from Bunts community.