Ganesh Prabhu

Udupi district was carved out of Dakshina Kannada district in 1997

The Congress has won 11 of the 14 elections held in Udupi Lok Sabha constituency

Udupi: With the reconstitution of Udupi Lok Sabha constituency as per the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, not only has the name of the constituency changed, but it has also lost its predominantly coastal character. The name has been changed from Udupi Lok Sabha constituency to ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ Lok Sabha constituency.

Hitherto, the Udupi Lok Sabha constituency comprised Assembly constituencies of Byndoor, Kundapur, Brahmavar, Udupi, and Kaup in Udupi district, and the Assembly constituencies of Moodabidri, Surathkal and Bantwal in Dakshina Kannada district.

But as per the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, the newly formed ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ parliamentary constituency would comprise four Assembly constituencies of Udupi district such as Kundapur, Udupi, Kaup and Karkala, and four Assembly constituencies of Chikmagalur district: Sringeri, Mudigere (SC), Chikmagalur and Tarikere.

In the process, Udupi district loses Byndoor Assembly constituency to Shimoga parliamentary constituency, while Brahmavar Assembly constituency goes out of existence.

Political heritage

With these recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, Udupi Lok Sabha constituency loses its shared political heritage with Dakshina Kannada district. Udupi district was carved out of Dakshina Kannada district in 1997. Both Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts had shared the same culture and faced more or less similar problems. However, the naxalite problem is one of the issues common to both Udupi and Chikmagalur districts, and hence to the new ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ parliamentary constituency.

The Congress won 11 of the 14 elections held in Udupi Lok Sabha constituency. Its candidates the late U. Srinivas Mallya won in 1951, 1957, and 1962, the late P. Ranganath Shenoy in 1971, the late T.A. Pai in 1977, and Vinaykumar Sorake in 1999.

Congress leader and Union Minister of State for Labour Oscar Fernandes won from the Udupi parliamentary constituency five times in a row (1980, 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996).

The Swatantra Party (J.M. Lobo Prabhu) won in 1967, while the BJP won twice in 1998 (I.M. Jayaram Shetty) and 2004 (Manorama Madhwaraj).

Chikmagalur parliamentary constituency shot into fame for electing the former Prime Minister the late Indira Gandhi in the 1978 bypoll.

The formation of the ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ parliamentary constituency is bound to have major repercussions to key political parties such as the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (S).

The Congress and the BJP will have to slug it out in the four Assembly segments of Udupi district. But in Chikmagalur district, these two will have to compete with the Janata Dal (S), which has a significant presence there.

Sources in the BJP said there was no dearth of aspirants for the new ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ Lok Sabha constituency. However, the name of Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar was figuring prominently in the party’s calculations as its next candidate for the ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ constituency. Mr. Kumar is popular in Chikmagalur district due to his role in the Bababudangiri/Datta Peetha issue. He also belongs to the Billava community, which is in a majority in Udupi district. Besides, Udupi MP Manorama Madhwaraj has irked the BJP leaders by taking an independent line on the Nagarjuna power project. D.C. Sreekantappa of the BJP has won from the Chikmagalur parliamentary constituency thrice in a row (1998, 1999 and 2004), the sources added.

The Congress is yet to come to grips with the new reality and chalk out a strategy. But party leaders from Udupi district are likely to face competition from their counterparts in Chikmagalur district for the newly created ‘Udupi Chikmagalur’ parliamentary constituency.