Rivals hold bad interior roads and erratic water supply against the Moodbidri MLA
Development is the talking point in the Moodbidri Assembly constituency that is more known for Jain basadis and the 1000-pillar temple. The constituency also boasts of the Mangalore International Airport and a portion of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone. Water supply and bad interior roads dominate the debate sphere.
The constituency is considered a bastion of the Congress as it has won six of the 11 elections since 1962. The BJP is yet to get the voter’s nod.
Congress’s K. Abhayachandra Jain, who has been representing the constituency for the past three terms, is seeking re-election. Pitted against him is the BJP candidate and Chairman of Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy Umanath Kotian, considered as an outsider to the constituency. The BJP, which started with 1,664 votes in 1989 elections, got 34,841 votes in 2008, about 10,000 votes fewer than the winner.
Also in the fray is the JD(S) candidate and former Labour Minister K. Amaranath Shetty, who is contesting for the 10th time. He has won against Congress candidates in 1983 and 1985 elections.
There is mixed feeling among people about the performance of Mr. Jain. Autorickshaw driver K. Padmanabh gives credit for Mr. Jain for asphalting the main roads in Moodbidri. Shopkeeper B. Ganesh says some of the roads have been asphalted twice in a period of six months only because those close to the MLA were residing there. People complain of bad roads in areas such as Ilia Durga near Moodbidri, Niddodi and Iruvail. Mr. Ganesh is worried over the supply of water for the town as the water level at the vented dam across Phalguni River is low. “There are difficult days ahead. Mr. Jain cannot be blamed for this,” he says.
Elderly citizen Purushottam Pujari from Niddodi, where a controversial power project has been proposed, and Satish Mulki, an employee of a cooperative society in Mulki, accuse Mr. Jain of skewed development work. “Work has now got restricted to Moodbidri. This was not the case when Mr. (Amarnath) Shetty was the minister,” Mr. Mulki says.
Mr. Jain is confident of winning another term by showcasing development projects carried out in the region. “Moreover there is a Congress wave,” he says, referring to party winning 14 of the 23 seats in the Moodbidri Town Municipal Council elections. Activists of the BJP, which controls 11 of the 19 taluk panchayats in the region, and the JD(S), which has a sizeable presence in Moodbidri, are highlighting the failures of Mr. Jain. “People have hardly seen development during Mr. Jain’s term,” says Mr. Shetty and hopes the work undertaken during his term will keep him in good stead. Mr. Kotian, on the other hand, feels the work he is doing as academy chairman coupled with works by the BJP government will find favour with voters. Mr. Kotian also insists he is not an outsider.