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BJP, Congress divvy up Mangalore on religious lines

Last updated on: April 22, 2013 17:06 IST

BJP, Congress divvy up Mangalore

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The battle for the coastal city of Mangalore is clearly polarised on communal lines. Vicky Nanjappa reports

The coastal city of Mangalore is turning into a major battleground between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress for the forthcoming state election.

The Congress has fielded candidates from minority communities in all three constituencies in the city.

U T Khader will contest for the third time from Mangalore. Moideen Bava, a realtor, will contest from Mangalore North.

In a bid to attract votes of the Christian community, the Congress has fielded former civil servant J R Lobo from Mangalore City South.

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Image: Congress leader Veerappa Moily campaigns in Mangalore


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BJP, Congress divvy up Mangalore

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The Congress has weighed its options carefully and chosen candidates from minority communities to put the BJP, which is often accused of being communal, on the backfoot.

Senior advocate Vikram Hegde, who is well-versed with the political climate in the region, believes that the BJP's poor showing in the urban local body polls cannot be an indicator of its future performance in the state election.

"This was a negative vote against the BJP rather than a vote for the Congress. Any common man will tell you that BJP corporators are to be blamed for this debacle. But you may not witness this scenario in the assembly elections," said Hegde.

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Image: A BJP rally in Puttur near Mangalore


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BJP, Congress divvy up Mangalore

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The Congress's gambit may pay off as Mangalore has traditionally witnessed the unification of Hindu votes when they are pitched against minority candidates.

Mangalore constituency, formerly known as Ullal, is a cakewalk for Khader, who has won the seat thrice, buoyed by the votes of the massive Muslim community in the area.

In Mangalore City North, Congress's Moideen Bawa is pitted against sitting BJP MLA Krishna Palemar.

"Moideen is a wealthy man and he could win over certain Muslim-dominated pockets. But Palemar continues to remain extremely popular, despite the Karnataka assembly porngate scandal involving him. This is hardly an issue with the voter and Palemar has delivered the goods," said Hegde.

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Image: Krishna Palemar on the campaign trail


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BJP, Congress divvy up Mangalore

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The Congress has fielded J Lobo to capitalise on the resentment in the Christian community in the aftermath of the church attacks in Mangalore.

In the 2008 assembly election, the Christian votebank had been split and many had voted for the BJP. Although the Christians traditionally vote for the Congress, the BJP had managed to get a large number of the community's votes the last time.

But when rediff.com spoke to members of the Christian community, it sensed a different mood.

Joseph Amanna, a resident of Mangalore, said, "Christians do not feel safe under the BJP's rule any more. There have been several incidents such as the church attacks, the attack on pubs and homestays under the BJP regime. This will be a deterrent for the Christians. Lobo is a Christian and this will work in favour of the Congress".

Leaders of the Christian community have taken several measures to ensure that all their community members are enrolled in the voters' list. They have launched campaigns to raise voter awareness among Christians.

But Hegde pointed out that the vote share of the Hindu community is larger than that of the Christian community. Members of the Hindu community can come together and vote against the Congress, he cautioned.

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Image: J Lobo on the campaign trail


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