Fishermen in Baitakol say he being a Minister for Fisheries has not helped them much

Voters in the Karwar Assembly constituency don’t seem to be happy with the performance of Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar, who is seeking a second term from here on the Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.

The constituency boasts of finest beaches and one of the biggest naval bases in the country — Project Sea Bird.

Fishermen in Baitakol fishing harbour said their legislator being a Minister for Fisheries had not helped them much.

Nanda Nayak of Vailmekeri said Mr. Asnotikar had not done anything for them. Sainath Nayak, a businessman on R.K. Temple Road in Karwar, said all that the Minister did in five years was “politicking”.

A case in point is the Kadwad-Sunkeri bridge that has been rendered weak. The foundation stone for a new bridge was laid twice in the last five years, once by the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and recently by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. New voters such as Satish Asnotikar, an engineering student, said laying the foundation stone just ahead of elections was an attempt to score a political point as construction of a bund was under way.

However, one of the Minister’s supporters on Kaiga Road claimed the BJP leader had tried to implement development projects in the constituency and had spent funds to repair roads.

Mr. Asnotikar is banking on the legacy of his father, Vasanth Kamalakar Asnotikar, who won the seat in 1994 and 1999 before he was murdered on February 19, 2000. Many voters still remember him as a people-friendly legislator. Mr. Asnotikar’s image suffered a jolt because of the political course he took, which many voters think was for “selfish” reasons. The Minister, who won the seat as a Congress candidate in 2008, joined the BJP when the saffron party launched Operation Lotus. The Minister was also in the Yeddyurappa camp when he was in the BJP, but later dumped him.

However, many feel he has an edge over the Congress as its local leader Satish Krishna Sail has jumped into the fray as a rebel candidate. Mr. Sail was a front runner for a Congress ticket till the party decided to field the former zilla panchayat president Ramanand Naik, who is perceived to have a “clean image”. Political observers said Congress votes could split and Mr. Astnotikar may get benefited.

Mr. Sail is known to have lent support to protests against Hanakona Thermal Power Plant and poor families fighting for compensation for the land acquired for Project Sea Bird.

However, he is also an accused in the theft of iron ore from the Belekeri port, a case being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Some Congress activists are learnt to be supporting Mr. Sail.

Though voters spoke highly about Mr. Naik, many thought he was not cut out for the job. A senior journalist told The Hindu that Mr. Naik had proved his credentials as an administrator when he was heading the zilla panchayat.