With about three weeks left for the election, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru BJP candidate Shobha Karandlaje is busy touring the constituency. As the constituency spreads over two districts, she is travelling between Chikkamagaluru and Udupi to campaign. She has to understand the problem of Bayaluseeme and Malnad in Chikkamagaluru district, while in Udupi, the problems of the coastal region are entirely different.
Despite differences within the party and former minister Pramod Madhwaraj contesting as the coalition candidate, Ms Karandlaje is confident of winning from the constituency the second time with her achievement and Modi wave.
How do you feel being fielded for the second term from Udupi-Chikkamagalur?
I am thankful to the party leaders for giving me another chance and having confidence in me. I am sure of winning this seat.
What makes you feel that you can win this time despite Congress-JD(S) uniting against BJP?
In the last five years, I have successfully implemented several central government projects. Many major roads have been upgraded to National Highways. The doubling and electrification of Konkan Railway is in progress. Many longstanding demands related to the Railways in Tarikere, like stoppage and underpasses, have been fulfilled. When it comes to the Central Road Fund (CRF), Udupi-Chikkamagalur stands next only to Hubballi-Dharwad. The Gems and Jewels Certification Centre has been started in Udupi. Be it Sakhi Centre, Passport Centre, GTDC, Kendriya Vidyalaya, electrification of houses or Ayushman Bharat, we have fulfilled them all. I have tried to get the maximum number of central projects to my constituency. Considering all these achievements, I am sure that the people are happy with Modiji's governance and that I can win the poll.
Then why is the allegation that you have not worked for the constituency?
I have got a number of central government projects to the constituency, but I have not given them much publicity. I have done four times the work what earlier MPs have done.
How will the Modi wave help you?
If developmental works are one of the factors for my confidence in winning this election, the other is the pro-Modiji wave. Country wants Modiji to return to power and for this they want BJP candidates to win. BJP is a strong organisation in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. Though a few decades ago it was a bastion of Congress, now it is BJP everywhere. The BJP is in power from Panchayats to Parliament.
Despite all these positives, will the unhappiness among party workers hamper your prospects?
It is true that there were many aspirants as I had once thought of not contesting this election. It is natural that a winning party will have many aspirants. However, once I was declared as the candidate by the party, everybody is working for the party. There is no problem.
Topographically, Udupi and Chikkamagaluru are different. Do you feel it will be difficult to win the poll?
The constituency itself is challenging. There is difference between Udupi and Chikkamagaluru in lifestyle, food and language. The problem of Tarikere, which is a Bayaluseeme, is different from that of Chikkamagaluru, which is a Malnad region. When we come to the coast, the problem is again different. Naturally balancing them is a challenge. When people see development and rae provided with basic amenities they are happy. In five years I have tried my best to balance and fulfill their needs.
Your opponent this time is from the fishermen community, which is considered strong. Do you feel this may pose a challenge to you?
The fishermen community always thinks of the country and they are nationalists. They are leading the Hindutva and nationalist issues and they will support us. I would also like to say that the central government has supported a port at Hejamadi Kodi, dredging works and Kodi Kanyana Bunder. All these projects are for the benefit of the fishermen community.