Residents say they gather to meet the MLA because he has done work

Mohammed Lidzeth, the driver of Congress’s Mangalore candidate U.T. Khader, was miffed when asked whether Monday’s campaigning began in the evening. “How can you ask this?” After a pause he says, “We have been on the road since 6 a.m. Our boss took a break to attend a few marriages.”

Mr. Lidzeth takes this reporter and the photographer to a house in Benjanpadavu where Mr. Khader was drawing up campaign plans with party workers for Merimajal-Kodmah, a stronghold of the BJP for nearly two decades. “Do not be worried over the turnout. I will be happy if I get 400 votes I got last time. Anything more will be a bonus,” he tells his partymen campaigning in the area.

Mr. Khader and a few of his supporters then leave in two vehicles to Terukadu, an area coming under the Merimajal-Kodmah polling booth. “This polling booth is one of the few new areas that became a part of my constituency in 2008. We could not even dare campaigning in these areas five years ago. Now, our party controls the panchayat. We have workers to stand against the BJP and the RSS,” Mr. Khader says while proceeding to Terukadu, his first stop.

Mr. Khader greets people at Vygreshwari Bhajana Mandir in Terukadu.

In a big hall, where the residents have assembled, the MLA seeks their support again. An elderly woman points out the problem of water supply. “Only one of the two borewells is working. The water supply is irregular,” says Harish, a builder. To this, Mr. Khader says that the area is new for him. “I am trying my best to solve your problems,” he says.

Mr. Khader says his party believes in addressing problems that affect the common man.

“The BJP government has made it hard for the poor to get ration cards. The situation was not like this when S.M. Krishna was the Chief Minister,” he tells people. After discussing for about 30 minutes, Mr. Khader moves to primary school in Pakkalpadi.

“This is the new concrete road laid few weeks ago,” Mr. Khader says, pointing to the road near the school that connects a hamlet of about 30 households. A fairly good number of men and women gather at the school. “Khader has done work here. That’s why so many people are coming to meet him,” says resident Gangappa Poojary.

Just as Mr. Khader was finishing his talk, one person in the crowd collapsed. The MLA sends the person in his car to a nearby hospital, and leaves for the next stop.

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