Deekshith DV traveled the length and breadth of the Mangaluru North Constituency to unravel voters’ thoughts ahead of the state’s assembly elections next year.
The Mangaluru North Constituency, erstwhile Surathkal constituency was formed after carving out certain pockets of Moodabidri in 2007 and is one of the high profile constituencies of the region as it is home to several big industries.
Since 1987, both the Indian National Congress and the BJP have had equal share of victories in their kitty. However, BJP had a strong hold from 2004-08 with BJP's Krishna J Palemar winning over the constituency for two terms and later becoming a minister in the state cabinet. The now infamous porn-gate controversy surrounding Palemar largely contributed to his defeat and a legislative green horn Moideen Bava was elected by the voters of the constituency in 2013.
In the year 2013, Mangaluru North Constituency had 198365 total voters - 96994 male and 101367 female voters. Of this, 145853 people cast their votes presenting a 73.53% turn out in the 2013 legislative assembly elections.
People in the Mangaluru North Constituency have come up with mixed responses on the performance of the incumbent MLA Moideen Bava, though a majority of whom expressed dissatisfaction over his performance. A dialogue with the constituents has a common refrain - the first time MLA lacks vision!
The locals feel that despite major industries functioning in the region over the last several decades, the MLA could not make much headway in providing employment in these companies for the local youth. A good number of residents here in Bava's constituency say that he pays more attention to publicity and PR tactics than work. One of the most recent tactics was distribution of notebooks to children on account of his birthday, which reeked of narcissism as the cover of the book had his pictures printed on it.
Another important characteristic of this constituency is that it is a communally sensitive one and most of the voters here feel that the MLA has failed to curb the communal elements. A major allegation against Bava is that he has been intervening in the functioning of the police department, arm-twisting the officials to act as per his wish, specifically safeguarding the anti-social elements.The constituency has huge hoardings and banners of Bava standing tall, but the locals say that these are mostly self-sponsored appreciation.
DYFI State President Muneer Katipalla, a resident of this constituency is vocal about issues pertaining to common man and he is one of the first to point out that the MLA has largely been a failure because he neither connects with the people of his constituency nor does he know the pulse of the voters.
"MLA Moideen Bava has not understood the problems in the Mangaluru North Constituency. Yes, compensation to various victims has been provided through the CM's Relief Fund, some roads have been repaired and contributions have been made to some worship centres. But in a communally sensitive constituency, what is the plight of law and order?" questions Muneer, who is evidently irked by the fact that core issues and problems caused by hazardous industries still remain unaddressed.
"I am talking about people who have lost their land, their bowl of rice to make way for MSEZ and MRPL like projects. They are living like destitute, without employment and without any certainty about their future. People are choked by dust and poisonous air. Water has been contaminated and our lives hang in limbo. Has the MLA stood by us?" Muneer probes adding that health and education sector in the constituency have gone to the dogs.
"One may have to see the plight of two government degree colleges in the constituency to understand my point. He is an MLA who is thriving on publicity and not on vision," says Muneer concluding that when his people's right to fresh air and potable water has been hijacked, the MLA is talking about a multi-crore Mall, which he calls a market, in the city, having no place for the common man whatsoever. Several residents in the region have endorsed the view of Muneer.
"An important road that connects Surathkal-MRPL is in very bad state but a road that goes to the MLA's residence has been graduated to fourlanes. The commuters on main roads are put to trouble due to bad state of the roads, but this does not catch the eyes of elected representatives," says Dheeraj, a resident of Kana.
Talking on the same lines, BJP leader Sathyajith Surathakal said that in his very first tenure, Bava has cleverly allocated a lot of contracts to his relatives and friends. "The development work that Bava is now claiming credit over, were all sanctioned during the BJP rule in the state," says Sathyajith.
While opinion of the activists and the BJP leaders could be called biased, Senior Congress leader and former MLA Vijay Kumar Shetty too did not pat the back of the MLA. "Developmental works are of substandard quality. These works have been done for namesake. There is a nexus here, under which lot of work are being delegated on commission basis," he said.
With a small group of people claiming that the MLA has been a good performer, Bava seemed to be the only one proclaiming that he has been an 'excellent' MLA. Speaking to NewsKarnataka.com about his developmental works in Mangaluru North Constituency, Bava said that having executed developmental work worth crores of rupees, he would need several hours to talk about it.