With the Election Commission of India announcing May 5 as Assembly election date, lobbying for tickets has intensified across political parties. The hopefuls have begun knocking the doors of persons who matter in their party.
But for surprise developments, the Congress is expected to field all four sitting legislators – the party’s district president Ramanath Rai in Bantwal, Abhayachandra Jain in Moodbidri, U.T. Khader in Mangalore (Ullal) and Vasanth Bangera in Belthangady.
However, Mr. Bangera is understood to have indicated his unwillingness to contest because of health reasons. Party sources said Mr. Bangera, a Billava strongman in the area, may have the final say in the choice of the candidate if he opts out. The former MP Vinaya Kumar Sorake and Belthangady Congress Block president Harish Kumar are said to be frontrunners for the ticket here.
The constituency has a large number of Billava voters.
Who will take on the BJP’s Krishna J. Palemar in Mangalore North (Surathkal) appears to be a tricky question for the party. The sources said that about 15 party workers have sought tickets, including zilla panchayat member Mamata Gatti and Moideen Bava, who lost in the last elections. If the Congress decides to field a woman, it could be the new entrant to the party, Shakunthala Shetty from Puttur.
Other contenders include former legislator Vijayakumar Shetty, the former KPCC Secretary Mohammed Badruddin, and the former mayor Shashidhar Hegde.
Also in the contention in Puttur are Block Congress president Hemanath Shetty, its former president Sudhakar Shetty, and nominated member of one of the local boards of the Reserve Bank of India Naveen Bhandary, according to party sources. Mr. Sorake, too, is said to be keen to contest from here.
Whether party leader Ivan D’Souza, who lost in Mangalore City South in May 2008 elections, will get the ticket this time remains to be seen. Mr. D’Souza and his supporters have made it no secret that they are unhappy with the entry of former bureaucrat J.R. Lobo, who may pip him (Mr. D’Souza) in the bargain for the ticket as he reportedly enjoys the support of some party bigwigs.
The sources said in Sullila, S. Raghu, who had contested last time, continues to be a strong contender.