Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency: This part-coastal, part-hilly constituency faces a diverse range of issues

Two seasoned politicians from the BJP and Congress face off in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency which comprises of four Assembly constituencies each from the two districts

April 14, 2024 08:59 pm | Updated April 15, 2024 01:07 pm IST - MANGALURU

Kota Srinivas Poojary, BJP candidate

Kota Srinivas Poojary, BJP candidate | Photo Credit:

The electorate is spread across two markedly different geographical areas in the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency — the coastal belt and the hilly terrain — almost in equal numbers. The issues that concern them too are quite different.

Over eight lakh voters from four Assembly segments in Udupi district and about 7.6 lakh voters from four Assembly segments in Chikkamagaluru district form the electorate of the Lok Sabha constituency that came into existence after the 2008 delimitation exercise.

While rapid urbanisation, fallow paddy fields, and decline in the marine fishing yield etc., are some of the issues concerning the coastal electorate, rapid spread of yellow leaf disease in arecanut plantations, diseases affecting the coffee plantations, urban migration, and lack of employment etc., are some of the issues haunting the electorate in Chikkamagaluru district. Some portions of Kundapur, Kaup, and Karkala Assembly constituencies that are on the foothills of the Western Ghats too face similar issues.

Varied issues

The perennially ongoing Varahi Lift Irrigation Project has been haunting the electorate in the Kundapur Assembly segment, known for its distinct Kannada dialect, and parts of the Udupi Assembly segment. Revival of the Dakshina Kannada Cooperative Sugar Factory is another demand of the farmers. With the Udupi city and the adjoining Manipal witnessing rapid urbanisation, supplying adequate quantity of drinking water is another challenge.

Air and water pollution allegedly by the Udupi Power Corporation Ltd., near Padubidri in the Kaup Assembly segment, and its impact on marine life is another issue often raised. Sea erosion continues to be a problem from Kundapur in the north to Hejmady in the south along Kundapur, Udupi, and Kaup Assembly segments.

The electorate in the Sringeri Assembly segment, which comprises Sringeri, Koppa, and Narasimharajapura taluks, is worried over the dwindling yield from arecanut plantations following the yellow leaf disease and is struggling to find alternative crops. People in the neighbouring Mudigere constituency also face a similar disease in coffee plantations. People here also faced massive landslips during 2018-19 that completely changed the landscape in the mountainous region. Some of the major rivers of the State, including Hemavati, Netravati, Tunga, and Bhadra, originate in these two Assembly segments that are threatened by mushrooming homestays and commercial exploitation of nature.

The Chikkamagaluru Assembly segment, which has the highest number of the electorate (2.3 lakh) in the Lok Sabha constituency, faces the challenge of unplanned growth of city. The Tarikere Assembly segment, with a mix of Malnad and plain land geographical features, grapples with water scarcity.

K. Jayaprakash Hegde, Congress candidate

K. Jayaprakash Hegde, Congress candidate | Photo Credit:

Seasoned politicians

The Lok Sabha constituency is set to witness a stiff fight between two political stalwarts, Kota Srinivas Poojary from the BJP and K. Jayaprakash Hegde from the Congress. While the BJP is fighting to retain its seat that is held by Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje, the Congress is making all-out efforts to wrest the seat lost to the BJP since 1998. The two candidates are seeking votes on the development agenda — Mr. Poojary, based on the Narendra Modi government’s achievements, and Mr. Hegde on his earlier development works.

Mr. Hegde, earlier with the Janata Dal, later switched to the Congress and won the 2012 byelections after D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who was elected in the 2009 election vacated the seat to become the Chief Minister. The BJP, however, regained the seat in 2014 with Ms. Karandlaje defeating Mr. Hegde. She repeated her feat with a bigger margin in 2019. By then, Mr. Hegde had joined the BJP and was later made chairman of the Karnataka State Permanent Backward Classes Commission. After realising that he would not be fielded as the BJP candidate from here, he rejoined the Congress recently.

Anti-incumbency factor

The BJP was forced to change its candidate on the face of severe anti-incumbency against Ms. Karandlaje with “go back” campaigns galore. The party chose Mr. Poojary even though the former Minister Pramod Madhwaraj had made a strong bid. Mr. Madhwaraj is now the campaign in-charge for Mr. Poojary.

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