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High stakes for parties in Kasaragod

C.S. Narayanan Kutty

BJP banking on lack of development in constituency to take on rivals



Jayalakshmi N. Bhat (BJP), N.A. Nellikkunnu (IUML), and Azeez Kadapuram (Left-backed Independent).



KASARAGOD: Can the Indian Union Muslim League keep the Kasaragod constituency, which C.T. Ahemadali has been representing for over three decades, is the talk in the political circles here.

The former Indian National League leader N.A. Nellikkunnu is in the fray this time after rejoining the parent party recently.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to spring a surprise by fielding its charismatic woman leader Jayalakshmi N. Bhat while the Left Democratic expects its Independent Azeez Kadapuram to eat into the IUML vote bank.

Mr. Nellikkunu joined the IUML when a section of INL workers opted to merge with it, while Mr. Kadappuram remained steadfast with the INL.

The BJP has emerged as a force to reckon with in the constituency. Ms. Jayalakshmi Bhat, elected as the Karadukka panchayat president in the recent local body polls, was previously identified with the Congress but joined the BJP along with her husband Narayana Bhat.

Mr. Nellikkunnu had contested against Mr. Ahemedali in the 2006 polls. The major campaign plank of Mr. Nellikkunu is the development work in the segment initiated by Mr. Ahemadali, a former State Minister.

For the BJP, Kasaragod, like the border segment of Manjeswaram, is one of the key segments and is focussing on the lack of development initiatives accorded by the Centre and the successive LDF and UDF governments.

The visit of BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who addressed meetings at Manjeswaram and Kasaragod, indicates the party's determination to open its account from the two segments.

The BJP is receiving wholehearted support from leaders in the party-ruled Karnataka.

Of the 99,975 votes polled in the previous polls, Mr. Ahemedali got 38,725; BJP's V. Raveendran 28,347; and Mr. Nellikkunnu (as INL nominee), 27,721.

After delimitation, the UDF-majority Muliyar grama panchayat was annexed to the Uduma segment, which is a setback to the IUML.

A major issue here is the delay in executing the Bavikara drinking water project as the constituency is faced with acute drinking water shortage, forcing the people to use the saline water drawn from the Chandragiri river.

While the IUML leadership maintains that the delay is due to technical hurdles in awarding the contract, the BJP blames the IUML MLA for the state of affairs.

The issue dominated the deliberations at a face-to-face with major candidates at the Kasaragod Press Club on Thursday.

The poor condition of roads; health concerns posed by the spraying of Endosulfan; lack of a scientific waste management system; and the elimination of the Marathi community from the Scheduled Tribe category are the key issues in electioneering.

The delay in disbursing insurance compensation to the kin of the May 22 Mangalore Air India Express crash, inadequate facilities at the General Hospital; and the recurring communal issues are also key concerns.

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