National » Karnataka

Updated: April 14, 2014 03:19 IST

Will Poojary break BJP stranglehold?

Govind D. Belgaumkar
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He is trying his luck for the ninth time in Dakshina Kannada

Four-time Lok Sabha member and veteran Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary, who won the party’s primary — internal election to decide his candidature — is apparently facing a tough challenge as he is trying his luck for the ninth time in the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency.

On the face of it, the Congress denies there is ‘Modi wave’, on the strength of which Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nalin Kumar Kateel hopes to enter Parliament for the second consecutive term. But, Mr. Poojary appears to have chalked out his campaign strategies astutely to turn the tide in against BJP.

While Mr. Poojary has been attempting to showcase the contest as if it is between him and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, ridiculing Mr. Kateel for seeking votes in the name of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Congress campaigners have been highlighting “communalism” and “polarisation” of society as the core issues of the district, blaming both the BJP and the Sangh Parivar for the situation.

The BJP and the Sangh Parivar, however, have denied the charge.

Mr. Poojary is trying hard to sell his development agenda — a mega scheme (creation of petrochemical hub) that will generate lakhs of jobs and highlighting how welfare schemes of the State and Central governments have ensured food security.

Mr. Kateel has been assuring people that he would get a separate railway division for Mangalore — a longstanding demand — besides boosting tourism, supporting agriculture-based industries and setting up IT parks.

Poll issues

Those fighting against the Yettinahole project — which envisages diversion of about 24 tmcft of water from the tributaries of the Netravati to the arid central Karnataka districts — have made it an election issue and given a call for pressing the None of the Above (NOTA) button on the electronic voting machine.

The two parties are not raising the issue on their own for obvious reasons — the project was cleared during the BJP government’s tenure while the foundation stone for it was laid by the Congress government.

Other candidates in the fray, including Aam Aadmi Party’s M.R. Vasudeva and CPI(M)’s K. Yadava Shetty, have also opposed the project. People on their part had sent a strong message against implementing the project by observing a bandh in March.

Issues such as uneven and inadequate distribution of compensation given to arecanut growers who faced losses owing to fruit rot disease, inadequate care of endosulfan victims, poor rail connectivity, and moral policing find no mention among the parties.

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