Incumbent Umanath A. Kotian, who for the first time opened the Bharatiya Janata Party account in Moodbidri Assembly constituency in the 2018 elections is testing his fortune for the second time against Youth Congress leader Mithun M. Rai from the Congress and Amarashree, daughter of Late K. Amaranatha Shetty from the JD(S), in the May 10 elections.
The constituency had elected Congress candidates seven times, including former Minister K. Abhayachandra for four terms (1999, 2004, 2008 and 2013), Swatantra Party and Janata Party twice each, and Janata Dal once. Triangular contests between the Congress, BJP and Janata Parivar from 1989 resulted in division of votes thereby ensuring the Congress victory till 2013 (except in 1994). Only when there was a straight contest between Mr. Abhayachandra and Mr. Kotian in 2018 after stalwart K. Amarnatha Shetty announced his political retirement, could BJP win the seat.
Moodbidri’s political history becomes incomplete without reference to Late Amarnatha Shetty, who contested Assembly elections 10 times under different political parties from 1972 and got elected thrice, two times from Janata Party (1983, 1985) and once from the original Janata Dal (1994). He got the Cabinet berth all these three times. Shetty, who died in January 2020 from age-related illness at 80, had maintained considerable sway over the electorate in the constituency. His daughter Amarashree is the JD(S) candidate from Moodbidri in the ensuing elections.
Shikshana and Jain Kashi
Evolving to become Shikshana Kashi (education hub) from being the Jain Kashi, Moodbidri and Mulki towns in the constituency have witnessed spectacular development over the years.
Moodbidri’s growth as an education hub began with the establishment of Alva’s Educational Institutions by Alva’s Education Foundation headed by M. Mohan Alva. With sprawling campuses, thousands of students, a number of courses, the Alva’s Virasat, various state and national sports events, free boarding, lodging and education in Kannada medium school, adopting meritorious economically backward and sports students etc., brought name and fame to the Alva’s.
The town also hosts a few medical and engineering colleges on its outskirts while a few pre university colleges offer focussed education for professional courses.
Need for growth
Yet, Moodbidri and Mulki towns that were declared taluk headquarters a few years ago, need to grow to the standards of taluk headquarters, said Prasad Shetty, lecturer with a private college in Moodbidri. The town badly needs an underground drainage system, full fledged library, infrastructure for students including entertainment and shopping centres etc.
Narrow roads within the town, including NH 169 from Puttige to Alangar, need to be widened, Mr. Shetty said adding authorities concerned should speed up construction of the market complex near the Swaraj Maidan.
Vasanth Kumar, a resident of Valpadi village near Moodbidri said the two towns were in need of proper bus stands commensurate with the taluk headquarters standards. People have to withstand the sun and the rain in Mulki on the flanks of NH 66 as there was no shelter at all while there was need for a vehicular/pedestrian underpass near the bus stand. Otherwise, the constituency has seen development, Mr. Kumar and Mr. Shetty said.
Mijar resident Narayana Prabhu said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that was widening NH 169 in bits and pieces between Gurupura Kaikamba and Karkala should complete the work expeditiously. It also should ensure people were not discomforted with dust.
Though the widened highway would have changed the entire landscape of villages and towns between Mangaluru and Karkala, it has not taken up the work between Bikarnakatte in Mangaluru and Gurupura Kaikamba over land acquisition issues, he rued.
Apart from comprising majority of hilly areas, the constituency also has beachfront in and around Mulki where sea erosion has devastated the spectacular Sasihithlu Beach where river Nandini joins the Arabian Sea. The government should protect the beachfront where the International Surfing Festival was being conducted annually, said Nagaraj Suvarna from Sasihithlu.