AICC secretary to visit Udupi and Chikmagalur from October 23

In anticipation of Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda's resignation as MP, the race for ticket to contest the byelection to the Lok Sabha from Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency has begun in the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With the resignation of BJP leader N. Shankarappa as MLC, the decks are clear for Mr. Sadananda Gowda to get elected as MLC. According to BJP sources here, the process of Mr. Sadananda Gowda getting elected as MLC was likely to be completed by December 15. The Chief Minister will then resign as MP for Udupi-Chikmagalur.

Lobbying for party ticket is on in the Congress and the BJP. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Sadananda Gowda defeated Congress leader and former Minister K. Jayaprakash Hegde by a margin of 27,018 votes. Mr. Sadananda Gowda secured 4,01,441 votes, while Mr. Hegde polled 3,74,423 votes. Third Front candidate Radha Sundaresh of the Communist Party of India (CPI) got 24,991 votes and Steven John Menezes of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 9,971 votes.

The constituency has four Assembly segments each in Udupi and Chikmagalur districts. The Assembly segments in Udupi district are Udupi, Kaup, Karkala and Kundapur, and those in Chikmagalur district are Chikmagalur, Sringeri, Tarikere and Mudigere (Scheduled Caste).

An office-bearer in the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), told The Hindu on Thursday that Congress leaders such as Mr. Jayaprakash Hegde, the former MP Vinaykumar Sorake, the former Union Minister D.K. Taradevi Siddartha and the former Minister B.L. Shankar were in the race for Congress ticket.

AICC secretary and MP Shantharam Naik from Goa would visit Sringeri, Tarikere, Mudigere, and Chikmagalur on October 23.

He would visit Karkala, Udupi and Kundapur on October 24 to elicit the views of party workers on the likely candidate for the byelection. He would submit a report to the party high command, the office-bearer said.

According to Congress leaders, the situation is favourable to the party owing to the scams surrounding the BJP government. Besides, the party had been in touch with arecanut growers, coffee growers, and farmers in the constituency. This would hold the party in good stead. “The situation is much brighter than the last parliamentary polls”, the KPCC office-bearer said.

Sources in the Udupi district unit of the BJP said that president of the Udupi district unit Udaykumar Shetty and former Karkala MLA V. Sunilkumar were in the race for the party ticket.

“However, the final call would be taken by Mr. Sadananda Gowda. Barring some major incident, our candidate for the constituency is likely to be finalised by November 15,” the sources said. According to a BJP leader, the party had all the Assembly segments in the constituency, barring Karkala, under it. “The fact that the Chief Minister represented Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency and the scams surrounding the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will favour us. The programmes of the State government and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani's Jan Chetana Yatra, would be an added bonus for us,” the leader said.

However, leaders of both the parties said that caste calculations would play a role in the selection of candidates.

President of the district unit of Janata Dal (Secular) Deviprasad Shetty said that the Third Front would field its candidate for the byelection.