National

Coastal belt turns a dark hue of saffron

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on May 15, 2018 Published on May 15, 2018

BJP supporters celebrating during Karnataka election results, in New Delhi. Photo: Ramesh Sharma   -  BusinessLine

BJP wins 16 of the 19 seats in region; polarisation and Modi’s tour help

After backing the Congress in 2013, all three coastal districts of Karnataka have turned saffron now.

The BJP has won 16 of the 19 Assembly seats in the coastal belt, and the Congress has secured three. In the previous elections in 2013, the BJP had won only three seats, and the Congress had bagged 13.

There are eight seats in all in Dakshina Kannada, five in Udupi and six in Uttara Kannada. While it was a clean sweep for the BJP in Udupi, it lost two seats to the Congress in Uttara Kannada, and one in Dakshina Kannada.

What seems to have played a major role in the BJP’s sweep of the region is the party’s consistent Hindutva campaign and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour of the three districts.

Coastal Karmataka has been a communal cauldron for the last several months.

In 2017, an RSS worker and an activist of the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) were killed in Dakshina Kannada. After the body of a person, Paresh Mesta, was found in a lake in Honnavar taluk, the BJP claimed he was a member of the Sangh Parivar, and claimed he was murdered.

The communal polarisation helped the BJP gain in the region, although several Congress heavyweights — Ramanatha Rai (Forest Minister), Pramod Madhwaraj (Fisheries Minister) and UT Khader (Food and Civil Supplies minister) hailed from the region. Only Khader has won.

The BJP’s first victory of the day was also from Coastal Karnataka. When Umanath Kotyan defeated Abhayachandra Jain, a former minister in the Siddaramaiah government from Moodbidiri in Dakshina Kannada, the BJP was quick enough to congratulate him, and more importantly, dedicate the victory to the late Prashant Poojary.

“BJP’s first victory comes in the form of Umanath Kotyan's win in Moodabidiri, Dakshina Kannada. Congratulations! Here, our karyakarta Prashant Poojary was hacked to death by fundamentalists. We dedicate our victory to his memory,” the BJP tweeted.

When Ramanatha Rai was defeated by the BJP’s Rajesh Naik in Bantwal, the party dedicated it to another of its workers who was killed in a political murder a few months ago.

“We win massively in Bantawal, where young RSS worker Sharat Madiwal was brutally killed by Islamic fanatics. Congress Minister Ramanath Rai had given tacit support to these anti social elements. People have now spoken. We dedicate Rajesh Naik’s win to the memory of Sharat.”

When Bharat Shetty (BJP) defeated Mohiyuddin Bava of Congress in Mangaluru North constituency, the party tweeted: “Our karyakarta Deepak Rao was hacked to death by extremists in this constituency. Justice has been served!”

Star campaigns

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had toured coastal Karnataka in March and May conducting road shows and holding interactions with people, apart from releasing the party’s election manifesto in Mangaluru. He had also made visits to some of the prominent religious institutions in the area.

In fact, BJP President Amit Shah began his election campaign by offering prayers at the Kukke Sri Subrahmanya Temple (around 100 km from Mangaluru) in February. He also then claimed that 24 Hindu activists were murdered under the Congress rule in Karnataka. He also visited the kin of some of the victims.

Though a BJP victory was not certain in a majority of these seats, Modi’s tour of Karnataka that began on May 1 managed to effect a definitive swing in the party’s favour. He had addressed rallies in Udupi and Mangaluru.

Published on May 15, 2018
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