Mangaluru: A Congress bastion, Mangaluru could this time see the Janata Dal(S) play spoilsport as far as the ruling party is concerned and bolster the chances of the BJP , which has not won from here since 1994.
Mangaluru, formerly called Ullal constituency, has opted for the Congress since 1972 except in 1983 when the CPM won the seat and again in 1994 when the BJP won for the first and last time. After the death of four- time Congress MLA, UT Fareed in 2007, his son U T Khader succeeded him in the by- elections and went on to win the next assembly elections of 2008 and 2013.
This time Mr Khader is up against Mr Santhosh Kumar of the BJP, a first timer, who has some experience as a zilla panchayat and gram panchayat member.
The Congress believes Mr Khader’s achievements as Food and Health Minister and his various projects in the constituency will see him through these elections as well. Local leaders point out that he has not antagonised the Hindus either and his identity as a secular leader stands to his advantage. But unlike in the past Mr Khader is facing a challenge from the JD(S), which has fielded former Mangaluru Mayor , K Ashraf these polls.
" There is a good turnout for Ashraf's rallies from the Muslim community. If they vote for him, it could damage Khader's chances," admit party sources. For the BJP a division in the Muslim votes could come in handy with the Sangh Parivar already working round- the- clock to ensure Mr Santhosh’s victory. "Santhosh is known for responding to people’s problems. This could work to his advantage," sources add....