Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency: BJP trying to retain its hold over coastal seat for ninth consecutive term, Congress keen to bring back old glory

There is direct fight between two new faces — Captain Brijesh Chowta of the BJP and Padmaraj R. Poojary of the Congress

Updated - April 14, 2024 12:42 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2024 07:29 pm IST - MANGALURU

Padmaraj R. Poojary, Congress candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency.

Padmaraj R. Poojary, Congress candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency. | Photo Credit:

Nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Dakshina Kannada is the only Lok Sabha constituency in Karnataka having marine, air, rail, and road transport connectivity. If the BJP is trying to retain the constituency in its fold for the ninth consecutive term, the Congress is fighting to wrest the seat it lost to the saffron party 33 years ago.

The erstwhile Mangaluru constituency became Dakshina Kannada in 2009 by losing Kodagu district to the Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency following delimitation of constituencies.

The BJP, which contested its first two elections unsuccessfully in 1984 and in 1989, captured the seat in its third attempt in 1991. The seat has remained a mirage for the Congress — which had won the constituency nine times from 1951 to 1989 — since then.

Entry of BJP in 1991

The BJP’s debut in the constituency was in 1984 when its candidate late K. Rama Bhat lost against the then two-time Member of Parliament B. Janardhana Poojary of the Congress. The saffron party changed its candidate in the next election in 1989 by fielding late V. Dhananjaya Kumar who lost to Mr. Poojary. Mr. Poojary was elected to Parliament from the Congress for the fourth time and it became the last victory of the party and the leader in the constituency.

Mr. Kumar brought the first victory to the BJP in the subsequent election in 1991 and since then the BJP has held its sway.

Rath yatra helped BJP

The Ram Rath Yatra led by the then BJP national president L.K. Advani in the coastal belt in 1990 changed the political direction of Dakshina Kannada in the 1991 Lok Sabha election in favour of the party.

The next BJP national president Murli Manohar Joshi’s Ekta Yatra in 1991-92 helped the saffron party consolidate its ground.

Capt. Brijesh Chowta, BJP candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency.

Capt. Brijesh Chowta, BJP candidate for Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency. | Photo Credit: H.S. MANJUNATH

Anti-incumbency against three-time Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel, who also headed the State unit of the BJP, made the saffron party change its candidate in the constituency for the 18th Lok Sabha election. Now, the constituency is witnessing a direct fight between two new faces — BJP’s Brijesh Chowta, 42, a former Captain with the Indian Army, and Padmaraj R. Poojary, 53, an advocate, of the Congress. The two are facing general election for the first time.

If Captain Chowta has more than a decade of experience in different positions in the BJP, Mr. Padmaraj Poojary entered politics a year ago.

Background of candidates

Captain Chowta, hailing from Mangaluru, did his B.Sc at St. Aloysius College, Mangaluru, in 2002. He served in the Army (Short Service Commission) from 2003 to 2010. He did his Executive Business Management Programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, in 2011. He has been in the party organisation in various capacities since 2013, has been organising Mangaluru Kambala for the past six years, and is associated with organising Mangaluru Litfest.

Mr. Padmaraj Poojary got his early school education at Javali in Chikkamagaluru. He graduated (BA) from Sacred Heart College, Madantyar in Dakshina Kannada, and did his LLB at SDM Law College in Mangaluru. He practised law under the guidance of Mr. Janardhana Poojary in Mangaluru from 1995 to 2000. He was made State general secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee a year ago just before the Assembly elections in the State.

Priority of candidates

Captain Chowta says his priority will be “development and Hindutva ideology”. He will strive towards strengthening the economy of coastal Karnataka. He says Hindutva means “economic and overall empowerment of every Hindu”. Mr. Padmaraj Poojary says his priority is to restore the tradition of having a cordial atmosphere in Dakshina Kannada with the overall development of the district in focus.

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