A news-maker for all seasons, the legislator of Mangaluru City North, B A Mohiuddin Bava is contesting for the third time at the upcoming polls. Though Bava had lost to the then-BJP stalwart Krishna J Palemar in 2008 by a margin of 14,426 votes, the former became a giant killer in 2013 and defeated the latter by a margin of 5,373 votes. The incumbent Congress MLA speaking to coastaldigest.com says that despite challenges and allegations, his constituents will put him back to power.
Meanwhile, Dr Bharath Shetty, a dentist-turned-politician, who is first time contesting the election on the BJP ticket, is confident of victory as he sees anti-incumbency wave. Another candidate Muneer Katipalla, well known in the political and activism circles is contesting from CPI (M) and says that he has a chance as people in the constituency are looking for an alternative.
coastalidgest.com posed seven common questions to these three prominent candidates of the prestigious constituency amidst their ongoing campaign for May 12 Karnataka Legislative Assembly polls, and each had a different take:
CD: Do you expect a triangular fight between the Congress, the BJP and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in the constituency?
Bava: No, there will not be a triangular fight. CPI(M) contesting elections may affect Congress votes in two wards, but they will not be able to create a major impact. People are aware of the drastic development I have brought about in this region in the last five years. I can say that I have given more than my 100 per cent to the constituency and managed to concretize several roads and bring over Rs 60 crore grant for the Surathkal market. Also, I have managed to bring in grants to set right the issues in the Underground Drainage in Surathkal. Be it grants for religious institutions or loans for minorities, Congress has brought it all.
Despite being a member of a minority community, I have been elected from an area dominant by other religions. This is the love and trust people have placed on me and I am confident that they will recognize the good work I have done in the last five years and support me. The fight in Mangaluru North will be between Congress and BJP and other parties don’t stand a chance.
Shetty: There are chances that CPI(M) may take a share of votes as there is anti-incumbency against Bava. However, the direct fight is between the Congress and the BJP and there is no doubt that BJP will win the election in this constituency.
Muneer: It will be a triangular fight. Earlier, people did not have an alternative. However, with CPI(M) entering the political fray in the constituency, people are sure to support us. People have seen how the money politics, religious and communal politics and people with vested business interest have played in this constituency and see CPI (M) as the much needed alternative. Our party has been among the people and is known to solve the problems faced by the common man, so people have shown their support during our campaigns.
CD: What are the unsolved problems in your constituency? How would you solve them if you get elected this time?
Bava: There is no department or area in the constituency where development has not touched during my tenure. While usually the state government used to allocate 20 per cent funds for the constituency, I have strived to raise that figure to 40 per cent.
However, my dream of building a hospital has remained unfulfilled and have already got funds of Rs 5 crore from MRPL and 1 crore from NMPT. If I get elected in the next term, I hope to ensure that the construction of 100 bed hospital is complete. The Rs 250 crore fisheries port proposed in Kulai is awaiting approval from Centre. Funds have been sanctioned for 3800 free houses for the poor in the constituency and the work will begin soon. I hope to construct a stadium to promote sports and small industries to create a job market.
Shetty: The development in the constituency is random and unplanned, and if BJP comes to power, we want to take up an integrated approach and solve issues in the constituency. The Congress candidate is going around claiming development. Let him show it on papers. There is needless expenditure done such as the temporary Surathkal market has been constructed with permanent structures. When the market is temporary, why is so much expenditure done? Also, people are alleging for tenders to pass, commission is required to be paid. When selection of the market shops is done by picking lots, how can one pick up a probability of four shops being next to each other? Funds that are being allotted for smart city are being diverted for the underground drainage works. That is not right. During election, people make tall claims. If work was done, it should have been evident.
Muneer: One cannot claim shoddy concrete roads as development, which the incumbent Congress MLA is doing. Development needs to be all-round and that is lacking in the constituency. Do we have a government hospital? Are there Primary Health Clinics with full time doctors? Why there is no government college here? Many industries here are flouting environmental norms and why the governments have done nothing to stop them? Why are jobs in MRPL and SEZ zones given to workers from other states? Why is the drainage system a failure in Surathkal?
Even the opposition BJP has failed to raise its voice. CPI(M) is getting support as the incumbent government has failed. We have two mottos – ‘Fight of the common man against rich capitalists’ and ‘No corruption and No compromise’. We will look into solving all the issues the Congress and BJP government have failed to address.
CD: Early this year, two-innocents - Deepak Rao and Mohammed Basheer were murdered in your constituency by communal forces. Was the Congress government successful in handling the issue? Do you think these incidents will affect your poll prospectus?
Bava: In past five years, no communal incident has been reported in Surathkal. When recently a Hindu and Muslim were killed, BJP tried its best to turn the incident with a communal-overtone. However, the law and order was perfectly maintained and steps were taken to ensure that such issues are not blown out of proportion and the alleged culprits were caught. If the issue turned out to be a communal riot, I would not have contested this election. This incident was well handled by coordinated effort. I don't think this incident will change voter’s perception about me by even 1 per cent.
Shetty: The recent murders in the constituency are sure to affect the Congress. BJP’s name was unnecessarily dragged and people know that. BJP has been in power in this constituency earlier and not one incident of communal violence happened. When the present government was in power a lot of incidents such as cattle thefts took place. These incidents easily get communal colour, spread hatred and the Congress is trying to use the same for its benefit.
Muneer: People are pained by the incident. Many youngsters in the region have destroyed their life by involving in communal incidents. People know who causes these incidents. There is no relief to the victims’ families. The incidents that rocked the region in the first week of January this year are sure to affect the Congress and BJP’s poll prospectus.
CD: Have you reached any pre-poll agreement with Janata Dal-Secular(JD-S) or Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI)?
Bava: We do not have any pre-poll agreement with the JD(S) or the SDPI. However, the members of the JD(S) and SDPI are openly praising the development I brought in the constituency in the last five years.
Shetty: We do not have a pre-poll alliance with anyone.
Muneer: We do not have any pre-poll alliance with anyone. We are directly approaching people.
CD: If you get elected, how do you see your constituency transforming in the next five years?
Bava: I have substantially improved connectivity in the regions by concretizing roads. People have already noted the positive impact the Congress party as a government has created, unlike the BJP which failed. If I get a chance to serve again, hospital, stadium, permanent market will be in our first phase of priorities.
Shetty: We plan to take up an integrated approach and implement planned development. Be it the failed Underground Drainage System or the lack of healthcare facilities that trouble the common man, we plan to solve them all and bring about a positive transformation.
Muneer: We aim to bring transparent governance, where we shall directly interact with the common man. By voting CPI (M), development the constituency lacked while BJP and Congress were in power will be brought about. Government medical college, government hospital, stopping the pollution in Phalguni River by the industries, creating jobs for the youth and other pro-people schemes are sure to transform the constituency.
CD: There are reports of dissidence within your party. Do you think it will have impact on the poll results?
Bava: There is no dissidence in Congress. In a matter of fact, Youth Congress leader Mithun Rai is campaigning for me and former MLA from the constituency Vijay Kumar Shetty is supporting me. Hence, I need not to worry about dissidence.
Shetty: There were ticket aspirants in the BJP and it is natural to feel disappointed. However, there is no dissidence. Former MLA Krishna J Palemar and his people are supporting my candidature and are striving to get BJP into power in the constituency.
Muneer: There is no denying that there is a lot of in fight between Congress and the BJP. The party loyal workers are expressing their disappointment. People are observing the dissidence and they will opt for CPI (M).
CD: Any comments about Mangaluru City North being identified as ‘expenditure sensitive’?
Bava: It is good that Election Commission is taking stringent measures. However, I have nothing to worry as neither me nor my party workers are involving in illegal works and electoral malpractices. We are contesting election in a fair manner.
Shetty: The Election Commission has declared the constituency as ‘expenditure sensitive’ almost a month before BJP decided the candidate for the constituency. I am contesting for the first time. If such a declaration is made by the EC, it could be because of the influence of the sitting MLA.
Muneer: Till now Mangaluru City North was called as ‘communally sensitive’ and now it is called as ‘expenditure sensitive’. This is shameful for the people of the constituency and is evident that money plays a role in this constituency. We don’t have money and our only strength is people’s support. I am sure people want to wipe out the money politics to see true development.
Mangaluru North: 7 common questions - different answers from Bava, Shetty, Muneer