For the people of Kodagu district, the 2009 Lok Sabha elections have thrown up a different perspective. They have to vote for a candidate of the Mysore parliamentary constituency on April 30, instead of choosing a candidate from the coastal Mangalore Parliamentary constituency as they were doing so far.
After the recent delimitation exercise, Madikeri and Virajpet Assembly constituencies are now a part of the Mysore Parliamentary constituency. Earlier, the three Assembly segments of Kodagu — Somwarpet, Virajpet and Maidkeri — were part of the Mangalore Lok Sabha seat, now renamed Dakshina Kannada parliamentary constituency after delimitation. These segments are no longer part of it, with Somavarpet having been done away with.
Mangalore seat is considered a BJP stronghold. Its candidates have won the last five polls. BJP president D V Sadananda Gowda is the sitting MP from this constituency and in the last Lok Sabha election, the people of the coffee district voted either for Gowda or his rivals.
The people of this beautiful district had a brief representation in the Lok Sabha, when C M Poonacha, hailing from South Kodagu, was elected in 1967 to become the Railway Minister from 1967 to 1969.
Except for this brief five-year period, Parliament has been a distant dream for the Kodavas, with futile attempts by local leaders like A K Subbaiah.
Since 1957, the Kodavas have depended on their representative in the coastal district. Consequently, their needs and aspirations have taken a backstage, the elected Mangalore MPs concentrating mostly on the coastal parts of their constituency.
Former Somwarpet MLA B A Jivijaya, who is in the fray in the current Lok Sabha election as Janata Dal (S) candidate, says, “Kodagu’s political picture has changed after merging with the Mysore Parliamentary constituency. It has generated their interest in this election. So far, they had no representative of their own in the Lok Sabha. Now, they have an opportunity,” he says and claims he was certain of their support and victory.
Another JD (S) leader Chikkamadu adds, “Now with Mysore, Kodagu people are showing excellent response in this election. They are happy they have come under Mysore and can look forward to have their problems solved. They have a number of issues distinctly different from Mangalore, like coffee.”
Congress MLA from Narasimharaja (Mysore) Tanwir Sait also endorses a similar view. “Kodagu people were not happy when they were with Mangalore constituency. Periyapatna and Hunsur towns are close to them. For them, Mysore is more easily accessible than Mangalore. It will benefit them more to be with Mysore.” than being a part of the Mangalore constituency.”
Sait was the district in-charge minister of Kodagu when he was a minister in the Dharm Singh cabinet. “Kodagu has over five lakh population and nearly 3.8 lakh voters. Congress can hope to garner around 33 per cent. BJP, which is in command of the district, may get around 40 per cent. The rest of 27 per cent may go to the JD (S) as Jivijaya hails from there,” he calculates.