Kundapura constituency witnessed an interesting contest this time. It was made even more interesting by the fact that both main contestants were last time’s winners: erstwhile Brahmavara MLA Jaiprakash Hedge and Kundapura MLA Haladi Srinivas Shetty.
The equations were a bit different this time and that was a huge factor in the voters’ decision making process.
Last 2 elections Jaiprakash Hegde contested, and won, from Brahmavar as an independent candidate. This time around Brahmavara constituency was dissolved for Elections 2008 and included into Kundapur and Congress roped Hedge in to take on Haladi Srinivas Shetty.
Congress calculated that Hedge’s personal charisma, congress loyalists and the fishing community where Hedge is quite popular would garner enough votes to defeat Shetty. However, Congress calculations failed to take one important factor into consideration.
Shetty’s formidable record and the developmental work that he has performed over the past years.
According to Rohan, Shetty’s nephew and someone who has seen his uncle quite closely over the years, people adore him because he has an ear and a helping hand for anyone who’s in need. Also Shetty’s character and charisma has endeared him more to the constituency’s voters.
The increase in the number of votes over 3 elections corroborates this statement.
Shetty’s first time win was over Congress MLA Pratap Chandra Shetty, a contest he won by just over a 1000 votes. Shetty’s second MLA stint came in the last elections where he defeated Congress candidate Ashok Kumar Hegde by 19,000 votes and retained the seat he wrested from Pratap Vhandra Shetty. In 2008, Jaiprakash Hegde was the one to bite the dust.
A not so insignificant factor can also be that Hegde lost quite a bit of public support by joining Congress ranks and this is said to have put a dent in his vote bank, especially the fishing community.
But the bottomline is Shetty has proved a much more formidable opponent than Congress imagined. Something that the voters displayed in Karnataka Assembly Elections 2008.