Mangaluru waits with bated breath as counting begins today

All eight Assembly segments witnessed an increased voter turnout

Updated - May 15, 2018 08:17 pm IST

Published - May 15, 2018 07:48 am IST - MANGALURU

K. Vasanth Bangera, K. Abhayachandra Jain, B. Ramanath Rai,

K. Vasanth Bangera, K. Abhayachandra Jain, B. Ramanath Rai,

As the electronic voting machines (EVMs) are opened on Tuesday, the fate of four political stalwarts in the district, including one unwilling contender, will be known by afternoon.

District in-charge Minister and six-term MLA from Bantwal B. Ramanath Rai has fought, perhaps, the toughest electoral battle this time in an atmosphere where votes appear to have polarised on the lines of religion.

The last-minute withdrawal of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidate appears to have added to the polarisation.

BJP’s U. Rajesh Naik, who lost to Mr. Rai in the 2013 elections by 17,850 votes, is said to have offered a tough fight this time.

In neighbouring Belthangady, five-term MLA K. Vasanth Bangera had an uphill task against the BJP’s young Harish Poonja (36) who had done elaborate groundwork before jumping into the fray.

BJP’s Ranjan Gowda, who was defeated by Mr. Bangera in 2013 by 15,741 votes, was not seen during campaigning even as his father and the former MLA K. Gangadhar Gowda rejoined the Congress days before polling. Incidentally, Belthangady witnessed a good voter turnout this time with an increase of 6 %.

Four-term MLA and the former Minister K. Abhayachandra Jain, who was “forced” to contest again as a Congress candidate, too has high stakes in neighbouring Moodbidri.

He won by a margin of 4,550 votes against the BJP’s Umanath Kotian in 2013, while Mr. Kotian is his opponent this time too. Whether disgruntled Dakshina Kannada Youth Congress president Mithun Rai’s return to campaigning after his grouse was assuaged would help Mr. Abhayachandra Jain to retain the seat would be known on Tuesday.

Though it appeared to be a cakewalk for four-term MLA and Minister U.T. Khader in Mangaluru (formerly Ullal), his winning margin of 29,111 votes against BJP’s Chandrahas Ullal in 2013 might get reduced in the wake of the presence of Janata Dal (S) candidate and the former Mangaluru Mayor K. Ashraf.

A staunch Congressman, Mr. Ashraf left the Congress days before the elections to join the Janata Dal(S). Whether he was able to split Muslim votes to help the BJP’s Santosh Kumar Rai Boliyaru would be known by Tuesday afternoon. The fate of incumbent MLAs in Mangaluru City North, Mangaluru City South, Puttur and Sullia, Mohiuddin Bava, J.R. Lobo, Shakunthala T. Shetty and S. Angara, that have been sealed inside the EVMs would also be out by Tuesday afternoon.

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