Introduction: Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency
Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency came into existence in the year 2009, when the country elected its 15th Lok Sabha. Previously, this constituency was Udupi LS Constituency comprising 6 assembly constituencies of Udupi district and 2 of neighbouring Dakshin Kannada district and Chikmagalur LS Constituency comprised of 6 assembly constituencies of Chikmagalur district and one each from Udupi and Dakshin Kannada districts. Notable feature is that the districts of Dakshin Kannada, Chikkamagaluru and Udupi are traditional strongholds of the SAFFRON Brigade. In the year Udupi and Chikkamagaluru Parliamentary Constituencies ceased to exist due to delimitation and were merged to form the new Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency which elected Shri Sadananda Gowda as its First MP, who himself was not from this Constituency but from neighbouring Dakshin Kannada district
Features of Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency:
Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency is a blend of the coastal, Malnad and arid regions of the south western Karnataka. The constituency runs for about 110 kms from east to west. The constituency has 8 assembly constituencies falling under it, namely Chikmagalur, Tarikere, Mudigere and Shringeri of Chikmagalur District and Udupi, Karkala, Kaup and Kundapur of Udupi District.
The Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency population consists of Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Billavas, and Bunts, Brahmins, SC-STs and Muslims, Christians and a sizeable population of Marwari’s in Chikmagalur town. The major agriculture produce is Coffee, Arecanut, Rice, Rubber in Chikmagalur Division and Rubber, Rice, Fisheries in Udupi district and there are no major industrial set ups in both the divisions. Naxal menace is a major problem in both the divisions.
Also, Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency is dotted with many Hindu shrines such as Shringeri Sharada Temple, Horanadu Annaporneshwari Temple, Tarikere Amritheshwara Temple in Chikmagalur division and Udupi Shri Krishna Temple, Kollur Mookambika Temple etc. Also the Ayodhya of the South, Dattapeetha is in this Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency.
2008 Assembly Elections
When the state went to polls in the year 2008 under newly delimited constituencies, it won 7 out of 8 constituencies. The major surprises of this election was BJP’s Shri Sunil Kumar (2012 Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Bypoll BJP Candidate) losing Karkala to Congress and BJP winning Tarikere, a traditional Congress pocket borough.
2009 Cooperative Societies Elections:
In the elections held to Cooperative Societies, BJP won a simple madority in Chikmagalur District Central Cooperative Bank, which was previously with JDS. 2012 Udupi Chikmagalur LS Bypoll JDS Candidate was the then president of this CDCC Bank. Udupi comes under The South Canara District Central Cooperative Bank, where BJP performed well but, rumours are that BJP had an understanding with Congress, according to which BJP shall rule Dakshin Kannada Cooperative Milk Producer’s Union( DKMUL) and Confress shall rule The SDCC Bank. Chikmagalur comes under The Hassan District Cooperative Milk Producer’s Union( HAMUL) and BJP performed well in Chikmagalur division but JDS had an upper hand in Hassan division and Shri H.D. Revanna is its Chairman.
2010 Gram Panchayat Elections
When the 5000+ Gram Panchayats went to polls in the year 2010, BJP’s performance was not upto the mark in Chikmagalur district but was satisfactory. In Udupi district, it was above satisfactory.
2011 Zilla Panchayat and Taluk Panchayat Elections
In January 2011, 30 ZPs and 176 TPs went to polls and in BJP snatched both Chikmagalur and Udupi ZPs from Congress and won in a majority of TPs, including Karkala TP, where its candidate had lost in 2008 assembly elections.
2009 General Elections
During the 2009 General elections, D.V. Sadananda Gowda of the BJP was pitted against Shri Jayprakash Hegde of Congress and Sadananda Gowda won with a margin of over 27000 votes despite, 7 out of 8 MLAs were from BJP. The low margin was because of Zero representation of Chikmagalur district in the State Cabinet and also many other reasons.
I’ve mentioned about all these elections just to indicate how strong the BJP became after 2008 Assembly elections. Now I shall explain the most likely reasons for BJP’s debacle in 18th March Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Bypoll which was necessitated due to the resignation of Shri Sadananda Gowda who went on to become the 26th Chief Minister of Karnataka succeeding Shri B.S. Yediyurappa who had to resign due to baseless, false allegations made by Santhosh Hegde, the then Lokayukta of Karnataka in his Illegal Mining report.
March 2012 Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Bypoll: Reason’s for BJP’s defeat
In the recently concluded Bypoll, whose results were announced on 21st March, BJP candidate Shri Sunil Kumar lost to Congress’s Jayprakash Hegde by a margin of 45,724 votes, despite of Udupi and Chikmagalur districts being BJP’s stronghold.
These ‘Reasons’ are according to what outsiders of this constituency think to be, and also these factors have played a role in BJP’s defeat. Top 10 reasons are
1. Slew of corruption cases that rocked the BJP Govt. of Karnataka
3. Minister accused of rape
4. Illegal Mining Report
5. Infighting among top BJP leaders
6. Yediyurappa’s absence from the Campaign team of BJP,
7. Weak Leadership of D.V. Sadananda Gowda and K.S. Eshwarappa, Ananth Kumar.
8. Biased Media
9. Negative campaigning by opposition parties
10. Polarization of Minority votes towards Congress
• Ground Reality:
These are the factors that played a major role in BJP’s defeat in Udupi Chikmagalur LS Bypoll
1. Core BJP supporters who would never vote for any other party than BJP wanted to teach their leaders a lesson, as they were fed up with the burgeoning infighting and leadership crisis, so they abstained from voting.
2. Porngate, Corruption cases were such an embarrassment to the party workers which made them to backtrack from seeking votes for BJP and through which they wanted to send a clear message to their leaders.
3. Though the two districts of Chikmagalur and Udupi are BJP strongholds, which made the BJP to take the voters lightly, the people wanted to remind BJP leaders that their support cannot be taken for granted and they can go to the extent of voting for a candidate who doesn’t fit in their ideological inclinement.
4. It was widely rumoured in Chikmagalur district that DVS gave JDS Rs.20 crores to field their candidate so as to split minority votes and ensure an easy victory. This can’t be ruled out given the proximity that DVS enjoys with Devegowda & co.
5. It was also rumoured that Congress has given JDS Rs. 50 crores to field S.L. Bojegowda as their candidate, so that he can pocket all the Vokkaliga votes and Lingayat votes by making JDS’s Lingayat face Basavaraj Horatti and Basavaraj Patil Yatnal campaign effectively. Even this can’t be ruled out given the polling percentage and the margin by which the Congress candidate won.
6. Point no. 4, that is DVS-JDS bhai bhai backfired, as a result of which Vokkaliga votes concentrated towards JDS candidate, which were otherwise inclined towards BJP. Note that BJP MLAs of Shringeri and Chikmagalur, Vokkaliga strongholds, D.N. Jeevraj and C.T. Ravi are Vokkaligas/Gowdas. So Vokkaligas who usually vote for Jeevraj and Ravi would have voted for a Vokkaliga candidate S.L. Bojegowda.
7. Point no. 5, Congress-JDS bhai bhai worked as Congress wanted. Division of Vokkaliga votes and JDS not concentrating on minority votes that much so that Congress can pocket them. In this political game, BJP was the real loser. Thanks to DVS-KSE-AK’s idea. The rumours that I’ve mentioned in points 4 and 5 were told to me by people who wpould go for campaigning. So, I can’t just leave those rumours as false. Anything can happen in politics, you never know.
8. Tarikere and Chikmagalur constituencies have a sizeable population of Lingayats. And B.S. Yediyurappa being continuously humiliated, the community was anguished. So they might have either voted for Congress/JDS or stayed back at home. Note that Congress’s Allam Veereabhadrappa, a LIngayat campaigned for his party and also told that Congrss would welcome B.S. Yediyurappa to Congress, thus creating confusion in the voter’s mind. The main reason BJP made Yediyurappa resign was to confront with Congress efeectively, but the same Congress is ready to welcome Yediyurappa, which might have made Lingayats vote in favour of Congress. JDS had Basavaraj horatti ang Basavaraj Patil Yatnal campaign for them. Though Shettar and Somanna of BJP, both Lingayats campaigned for BJP, Lingayat voters were not satisfied with this. They wanted their foremost leader Yediyurappa not to be humiliated. So they did all this to send a clear message to BJP leadership, not to take them for granted.
9. People who never come out to vote, probably voted this time and obviously woluld have voted in favour of Congress, given the sympathy factor that Congress candidate had lost 3 times and Let us give him a chance attitude. I can justify this because Voting percentage of 2009 General election and this Bypoll were almost the same, 0.5 % difference, despite many abstaining as I’ve mentioned above.
10. Also, discrepancies in the voter’s list. Many new voters did not find their votes. Usually youths are inclined towards BJP and also BJP candidate was a youth and BJP Yuva Morcha Karnataka Head. I am also a victim of this, along with my sister. I could not find our names in the voter’s list, despite of filing an application for the same.
These are the factors I feel which worked against BJP in both Udupi and Chikmagalur divisions of Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Constituency.
*Chikkamagaluru Centric Factors:
Now I would like to be more specific, that is I would list why Chikmagalur district would have not favoured BJP this time and why they wanted to teach BJP a lesson, despite they being ideologically attached with the BJP.
1. First and foremost. No representation for Chikmagalur District in the state cabinet, despite of all 5 MLAs of the district being BJP MLAs. The BJP leadership has been assuring the people of Chikmagalur that the district will be given representation in the next cabinet expansion for sure, but it never happened during BSY regime. When Sadananda Gowda took over, expectations were even more higher but nothing happened. And the justification they gave later was even more worse, the CM himself is from the district. The people here aren’t fools to buy their justification. The CM belongs to Dakshin Kannada district and while contesting 2009 LS elections, he chose Udupi over Chikmagalur for his residence. He opened his MP office in Udupi, sidelining Chikmagalur district. He chose to attend Independence Day and Republic Day functions at Udupi, sidelining Chikmagalur district. People who were quite all these days erupted this elections and chose Congress over BJP. Note that, Congress had three Cabinet Ministers from Chikmagalur.
2. Sadananda Gowda during his election rallies in Chikmagalur, said that due to his efforts, Union Govt. released a package of Rs.350 crores for Coffee growers, which even Congress claimed that it was due to their efforts. But the fact is this package helped only small growers with 5 acres of coffee estate, thus leaving Medium and Large Coffee growers unattended. Problems faced by Coffee planters, big or small were the same, and he dint even bother to address their problems. So they revolted against BJP, who otherwise prefer BJP over Congress.
3. The labour class, which is a major votebank, are communist inclined. Since communists were backing, they preferred Congress over BJP, as they are less aware of JDS. BJP has never made an attempt to cosy upto thes labour class of Coffee estates.
4. Also, sanctioning of development projects and other infrastructure works for Chikmagalur district are less compared to Udupi and other districts. But BJP has made an attempt in this regard, but not satisfying.
5. Problems of Arecanut growers were never addressed, despite several appeals. The CM’s promise remained only on newspapers and never materialised. This made Arecanut growers to look at Congress.
6. The confusion regarding implementation of Project Tiger in Bhadra Wildlife and Kudremukh National Park ranges of Chikmagalur worked against BJP, even in Udupi’s Karkala I suppose. The CM’s statements were itself confusing. When in Bengaluru, he wopuld say, the proposal is dropped. In Chikmagalur he would say, the State Govt. has requested Centre to drop Chikmagalur district from the proposal and while addressing election rallies, he would say the Govt. would look into the proposal and see if it can be dropped when this issue was brought to his notice. This worked against BJP’s favour.
These are the factors I feel which worked against BJP’s favour.
*Udupi Centric Factors:
I am not sur of Udupi factors but will make an attempt.
1. Permitting a Tourism related program in Udupi’s St. Mary’s Island, which turned out to be a Rave Party worked against BJP.
2. The CM DVS, while inaugurating BJP’s Election Office in Udupi said that Acharya’s clean image would swing in BJP’s favour, which was an utter irresponsible statement I feel. It was equal to saying. His death will help BJP’s prospects.
This is my analysis of BJP’s electoral debacle in the crucial Udupi- Chikmagalur LS Bypoll. Please do leave your comments here. Thanks.