Staff Correspondent

Eight are in the fray for election to Legislative Council from South Teachers' constituency

Congress candidate Gangadhar confident of winning on the strength of the party's popularity AIPJD's H.A. Venkatesh alleges poll code violation by JD(S) Decision to provide ex-gratia has endeared the party to the JD(S), says party candidate P. Sharadamma

MYSORE: Those contesting the coming election to the Legislative Council from South Teachers' constituency vied with each other to pledge their commitment to the cause of teachers at an interaction programme organised by Mysore District Journalists' Association here on Sunday.

It not only brought the eight candidates face-to-face, but also triggered a debate on their capability to protect the interests of the teaching community in the districts of Mysore, Hassan, Mandya and Chamarajanagar.

Rebel Congress candidate and outgoing MLC Marithibbe Gowda began the proceedings by listing out the efforts he has made for the welfare of the teaching community during his six-year-long tenure as member of the Upper House. He claimed credit for the ex-gratia of Rs. 200, which was announced recently for teachers.

"I pursued the matter with former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh as well as his successor H.D. Kumaraswamy. The demand was met owing to my relentless efforts", he said.

Although the Congress party had denied him the ticket this time around, Mr. Marithibbe Gowda said he had enjoyed the support and backing of a large number of teachers. "I am confident that I will win", he said.

Mr. Marithibbe Gowda refuted the allegation that he was not around during the agitation launched by teachers. He said he had been in the forefront of all agitations launched by the teaching community.

Congress candidate Gangadhar was confident of winning on the strength of the party's popularity. "I have also been in touch with teachers during the past six years and have been registering a large number of teachers for the elections," he said.

Efforts failed

Asked about his recent statement that there was an understanding between the Congress and All-India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD), and that the latter party's candidate H.A. Venkatesh would withdraw nomination in his favour, Mr. Gangadhar said the efforts to put up a common candidate by the Congress and AIPJD had failed. "But the Congress high command asked me to contest the polls and gave me the B form," he said.

Janata Dal (Secular) candidate P. Sharadamma recalled her service as teacher before becoming an officer in the Education Department. Ms. Sharadamma, who retired as the Deputy Director of Public Instruction, Mysore, said that she was the only woman candidate in the fray.

Apart from the fact that she was the lone woman candidate, the Government's recent decision to provide an ex-gratia had endeared the party to the teachers, Ms. Sharadamma said.

BJP candidate Gurunanjaiah said he had been working as lecturer for more than 30 years and knew very well the problems faced by teachers. "I have prepared an agenda containing 33 demands for the welfare of teachers. These include regularisation of part-time teachers, and securing them adequate monetary benefits," he said.

Commitment to justice

AIPJD candidate H.A. Venkatesh said he was confident of winning the elections on the strength of former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's image as a stickler for principles and morality, besides his commitment to the concept of social justice.

Mr. Venkatesh expressed concern over "violation" of poll code by Janata Dal (Secular). Former Mayor of Mysore and rebel Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Srikantaiah said he knew the problems faced by teachers as he himself had been in the profession for 32 years.

Subbanna, an independent candidate, alleged that many who were contesting the elections were not teachers.