With the Karnataka Assembly elections 2023 just days away, South First is bringing you ground reports from key constituencies. This series brings you voices from the ground, the mood of the voters, and issues that matter — as well as those that don’t — as people make up their minds on who they will elect in the upcoming Assembly elections.
A casket of silver still casts its shadow over Ullal — or Ullala — a coastal town in Karnataka.
Legend has it that the casket had made some betray Queen Abbakka Chowta in her fight against the Portuguese in the 16th century. Vanquished, she fled to the hills.
Her strength was the Mogaveeras, the fishermen’s community. Armed with the queen’s strategies, they had a cakewalk over the foreign war machine in the first war.
The second war, however, did them in.
Many in Ullala feel that the 10 May election to the state Assembly will be a cakewalk for the sitting MLA, UT Khader of the Congress. Or will he meet the fate of the second war?
One of the oldest towns in India, Ullala, of late, is communally tense but peaceful. Some eight to 10 km from Pumpwell Junction, a communally tense area, the Mogaveeras of Ullala peacefully co-exist with the Beary Muslims.
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It’s Khader all the way
South First spoke to several people in Ullala in the Mangaluru Assembly Constituency. While many of them openly supported Khader, a few others were diplomatic.
“It would be a cakewalk for UT Khader here, and undoubtedly he will win the elections with a huge margin,” Yousuf, a resident of Ullala, sounded confident.
“He is the undisputed leader here. He is CEO material and no one can defeat his oratory skills, and he is accessible,” he added in a conversation with South First.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), which seems to have re-couped after the September 22, 2022, ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), has fielded a candidate, hoping to cash in on the sizeable Muslim votes.
“He (SDPI candidate Riyaz Farangipet) may go to Gujarat and contest for elections, and he might win,” Yousuf mocked.
Muslims have around 70,000 votes, followed by Billavas (30,000), Bunts (30,000), Christians (20,000), Mogaveeras (15,000), Kulalas (15,000), and others.
“We are sure that the 70,000 Muslim votes and the 20,000 Christian votes are fixed for Khader,” Yousuf said.
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“The SDPI has fielded a firebrand candidate, Riyaz Farangipet, against Khader, but he is little to less known here though he might be popular in Farangipet. Will he come from Farangipet to attend to our problems,” he wondered.
Shopkeeper Hassan told South First that even children know Khader. “He is a non-controversial leader. He will win 100 percent again. We don’t know who Riyaz Farangipet is, or even the other candidates. Even small kids in Ullal know Khader,” he said.
In the 2018 Assembly elections, Khader defeated BJP’s Santhosh Kumar Rai Boliyar by a margin of nearly 20,000 votes. Boliyar secured 61,000 votes while the JD(S) candidate K Ashraf bagged 3,692 votes, and CPI’s Nithin Kumar lagged with just 2,732 votes.
The voters’ turnout in 2018 was around 1.5 lakh.
In the 2013 elections, Khader defeated BJP’s Sri Chandrahasa Ullala by a margin of 29,000 votes.
Khader bagged 69,450 votes, while Ullala won 40,339, and SDPI’s Mahammed Akram Hasan had to be satisfied with 4,808 votes.
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Candidates in fray
Besides Khader, Sathish Kumpala (BJP), Mohammad Ashraf (AAP), and Mohammed Riaz Farangipet (SDPI) are in the fray. Deepak Rajesh Coelho is also contesting as an independent.
Speaking about the development programmes carried out by the incumbent MLA, Noushad, an auto-rickshaw driver, told South First that he has been accessible to all.
However, Ibrahim, a shop owner said Khader helped certain Muslims, ignoring others. “This time, we cannot say who will win,” he said.
Meanwhile, painter Kishna expressed a grudge. “Around 17 years ago, 370 line houses with a living room and a small kitchen were planned near the Someshwar Temple opposite to Meridian College in Ullala,” he said.
“I was even allocated a door number, 143, and I paid ₹5,000. Later, the matter went to the court and there is no news of these houses,” he told South First.
BJP’s Sathish Kumpala is an RSS man. While Khader is renowned in his constituency for his secular stance, the BJP is attempting to polarise the community, many voters felt.
According to sources, Kumpala, trained by the RSS, rose up the ranks to become a prominent youth leader.
He has not only worked hard to bring the BJP to power in local body elections but has also established a good rapport with the Sangh leaders.
Kumpala has a sure vote bank of 50,000, which would make this election interesting, many in the constituency believed.