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Seven contenders in the fray in Ullal

By Our Staff Correspondent


MANGALORE, APRIL 14. Nestled on the shores of the Arabian Sea, Ullal stands testimony to the valour of Rani Abbakka, who single-handedly took on the might of the Portuguese empire. The place also has spiritual significance as it is home to one of the oldest shrines in South India, Sri Somanatheshwara Temple, and the Sayed Madani Mosque.

Ullal is also the seat of higher education in Dakshina Kannada district as Mangalagangotri, the campus of Mangalore University, is located at Konaje.

Though seven contestants are in the fray, the main battle is likely to be between the former MLA, U.T. Fareed of the Congress, and K. Jayaram Shetty, who quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to join the Janata Dal (Secular).

The constituency has 1,50,914 voters: 74,090 men and 76,824 women. As many as 140 polling stations will be set up in the segment, of which 73 have been declared sensitive and 47 hypersensitive. The Congress has its influence over the constituency as it controls most of the civic and panchayat raj bodies.

Though the main fight is reckoned to be between Mr. Fareed and Mr. Jayaram Shetty, the presence of Ramachandra Uchil of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Chandrashekar Uchil of the BJP, Muzzafar of the Indian Union Muslim League, Vijaykumar Shetty of Kannada Nadu, and Leelavathi, an independent, is expected to eat into the vote share of the main contestants, making it a closely fought battle.

Mr. Fareed defeated Mr. Jayaram Shetty by a margin of 15,253 votes in the 1999 elections. Mr. Fareed had won from the constituency in 1972 and 1977 before being re-elected after a gap of 22 years. Mr. Fareed, who polled 50,134 votes in the 1999 elections, secured 53 per cent of the valid votes as against Mr. Shetty, who secured 34,881 votes.

Ullal, which has a large population of Muslims, Christians, and Mogaveeras, has favoured the Congress in the previous elections. This can be gauged by the fact that the Congress nominee for the Mangalore Parliamentary constituency in the previous elections, M. Veerappa Moily, secured 54,725 votes as against 35,431 votes polled by the BJP nominee, V. Dhananjaya Kumar.

However, according to Mr. Jayaram Shetty, the contest has narrowed down to himself and Mr. Fareed. Mr. Jayaram Shetty, who is contesting on the Janata Dal (S) ticket after the BJP denied him nomination, is confident that the people will vote him to power based on his achievements and his ability to maintain communal harmony in the area.

On the other hand, Mr. Fareed faces a formidable challenge in Mr. Jayaram Shetty, apart from the dissension in his own party.

Not many were keen that Mr. Fareed be re-nominated, including the Sunni Muslim Federation, which petitioned the Congress High Command against his candidature. Mr. Jayaram Shetty will also have to contend with the challenge posed by his former colleague in the BJP, Mr. Chandrashekar Uchil.

The CPI (M) is cross with the Janata Dal (S) for not honouring an agreement as far as Ullal is concerned. With Mr. Jayaram Shetty joining the Janata Dal (S), the party decided to field him, despite an agreement with the CPI (M) allocating the constituency to the latter.

The major issues that the candidates will have to address include finding a permanent solution to the problem of sea erosion, developing Ullal into a tourism hub, and construction of a bridge to Pavoor-Ulliya island. Maintaining communal amity in the constituency will be of priority for the winning candidate.

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