Udupi would be a very interesting constituency to watch out for. It has been in the news for some very wrong reasons in the past and also the BJP which had made it a strong hold appears to be losing steam over here.
At Udupi for several years, the advantage was always with the Congress and the party has won 12 times. The BJP however started to make inroads only recently and won the seat thrice.
The first of the problems for the BJP began when it had to drop Raghupathy Bhat, the sitting MLA from the constituency to contest the elections this time. There was a CD aired on a news channel which had alleged that he was in bed with a woman. Today the BJP has gone with Sudhakar Shetty who had first contested in 1999 but lost to the Congress. In the year 2004, they replaced him with Bhat which prompted him to contest as an independent. He however ended up third in the race.
While the BJP would need to pull off a miracle to ensure that Shetty wins, the Congress is trying to make the various scandals a poll issue here. They quote the sleaze CD which was aired recently. They also speak about how the BJP promoted the Church attacks and also the pub attacks. Further the infamous rave party which was alleged organized by the BJP administration is also an issue for the Congress.
The BJP is however unfazed by these allegations and speaks about development of the area. While there is no negating that the BJP has focused a lot on Udupi, there are still some teething problems. The people of the constituency say that the parties should focus on more important problems than run a smear campaign against each other. Water scarcity and the lack of a proper drainage system are the two main issues in Udupi.
The BJP does realize that it is a tough battle ahead. The Congress is however very confident. In fact the party defeated the BJP for the first time in 45 years in the urban local body elections in Udupi. The Congress has decided to continue with the candidature of Pramod Madhawaraj who had lost to Bhat in 2008. The Congress however says that there is a trend in their favour and there is definitely going to be a negative vote against the BJP.
One must also take into consideration a very crucial aspect of Udupi. It is the home town of senior Congress man, Oscar Fernandes. He has been active in the Udupi campaign and there is a very strong rumour that he could well become the compromise candidate for the Congress if Siddaramaiah and Parameshwar do not iron out their differences during the race to the post of Chief Minister.