K. Jeevan Chinnappa

Coorg, as Kodagu was called then, went to polls as a Part “C” State in 1951

There were 18 constituencies of which, six had to elect two members each

Madikeri: Kodagu has a glorious history. Ruled for over 200 years by the Lingayat kings since the early part of 17th century, Kodagu came under the British rule in 1834. The British influence held sway till Independence.

Coorg, as Kodgau was called then, went to polls for the first time as a Part “C” State in 1951 for the 24-member Legislative Assembly of Coorg.

There were 18 constituencies of which, six had to elect two members each. There were 94,593 voters of whom 87,947 exercised their franchise.

The constituencies were Sanivarasante (two members), Somwarpet north, Somwarpet south, Fraserpet, Sunticoppa (two members), Mercara (Madikeri) Town, Murnad, Mercara Nad, Srimangala Nad (two members), Hudikeri, Beriathnad, Ponnampet Nad (two members), Virajpet Town, Virajpet Nad (two members), Ammathi Nad, Siddapur (two members) Napoklu Nad and Bhagamandala Nad. Indian National Congress (INC) won 15 seats, while independents bagged nine.

Elections were fought between those who argued for the merger of Coorg with Mysore and those who opposed it, according to Mittu Chinnappa, an octogenarian from Virajpet. Those in favour of the merger (INC) won 15 seats, while their opponents (independents) secured nine seats, he said.

Kodagu was then a rich Part “C” State. C.M. Poonacha of the INC, who won from Beriathnad, became the Chief Minister. K. Mallappa, who won the second seat from Sanivarasante, was made Home Minister.

Kodagu was, amidst protests, merged with the then Mysore State in 1956. The 1951 pattern of voting continued in 1957 when elections were held for the two Assembly constituencies in Kodagu — Virajpet and Madikeri. Poonacha of the INC was re-elected from Madikeri. He defeated Kolera Karumbayya of the Praja Socialist Party.

In the Mercara (Madikeri) constituency, Mallappa of the INC defeated his nearest rival Y.T. Aiyappa of the Communist Party of India. Significantly, of the 33,225 votes polled in Virajpet and 38,758 votes in Madikeri, not a single vote was rejected.

Winning streak

The INC maintained its winning streak in the 1962 elections too. Its candidates A.P. Appanna was elected from Virajpet and Mallappa was re-elected from Mercara. Elections were held for the fist time for three Assembly constituencies — Virajpet, Madikeri and Somwarpet — in 1967. Virajpet was reserved for the first time in 1967 for the Scheduled Tribes.

N. Lokaiah Naik of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh defeated A.N. Belli of the INC in Virajpet. However, the INC candidate in Madikeri won against M.C. Nanaiah, an independent, and G.M. Manjunathaiah of the Swatantra Party defeated INC candidate C.K. Kalappa in Somwarpet.

It was a repeat of history for the INC in the 1972 elections when its candidates G.K. Subbaiah won from Virajpet, A.M. Belliappa from Madikeri and R. Gundu Rao, who later became the Chief Minister, from Somwarpet. Again in the 1978 elections, G.K. Subbaiah triumphed from Virajpet as an INC (I) candidate, followed by M.C. Nanaiah in Madikeri and R. Gundu Rao from Somwapet. It was a hatrick win for G.K. Subbaiah from Virajpet in the 1983 elections, while M.M. Nanaiah won from Madikeri from the INC. But, R. Gundu Rao had to taste defeat against B.A. Jivijaya of the Janata party in Somwarpet.

Suma Vasant won as a Congress candidate from Virajpet in the 1985 elections, followed by D.A. Chinnappa of the same party from Madikeri. B.A. Jivijaya of the Janata Party won for the second time from Somwarpet. Suma Vasant, D.A. Chinnappa and A.M. Belliappa of the Congress maintained their winning spree in the 1989 elections from Virajpet, Madikeri and Somwarpet constituencies, respectively.

For the first time, the BJP stormed the Congress bastion in Virajpet when H.D. Basavaraju was elected from there. D.S. Madappa and Appachu Ranjan of the BJP were elected from the Madikeri and Somwarpet constituencies, respectively. However, in the 1999 elections, Congress candidates Suma Vasant in Virajpet and M.M. Nanaiah in Madikeri made a comeback, while Appachu Ranjan retained his seat in Somwarpet. In the 2004 elections, Jivijaya was elected from Somwarpet, while Basavaraj defeated Suma Vasanth in Virajpet. K.G. Bopaiah of the BJP won for the first time in Madikeri.

After the delimitation of constituencies, Kodagu now has Madikeri and Virajpet constituencies. The Congress and the BJP continue to be the major players, but a rejuvenated Janata Dal (S) is sure to give them a run for their money.