By P.T. Bopanna
As the major political parties have failed to field candidates from Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka, the people of Kodagu should exercise the NOTA (none of the above) option in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Mysuru-Kodagu constituency.
The NOTA option is designed to indicate disapproval of the candidates and parties in the voting system.
Not since 1967 when former Union railway minister C.M. Poonacha won the Mangalore seat, none from Kodagu has been elected to the Lok Sabha.
While Kodagu was earlier part of the Mangalore Lok Sabha constituency, now it is part of the Mysuru constituency.
When Kodagu was a separate state prior to its merger with Karnataka in 1956, Kodagu had its own Lok Sabha seat. In the 1952 General Election, the seat was won by Nidemane Somanna of the Congress.
With nobody from Kodagu getting elected to the Lok Sabha since 1967, the area has been neglected for want of representation. Kodagu now has two assembly constituencies – Virajpet and Madikeri.
Vijayashankar, the Congress candidate this time, has represented the Mysuru-Kodagu seat twice before as BJP candidate. There is hardly anything to show for what he has done for Kodagu. The only reason why he landed the ticket this time was on account of his being backed by Congress leader Siddaramaiah, of the Tipu Sultan Jayanthi fame. Siddaramaiah has been blamed for vitiating the communal harmony in Kodagu.
The sitting BJP candidate Simha has not done much for Kodagu on his admission. He was recently quoted as saying: “I could not visit Kodagu often as I had involved myself in strengthening the party in Mysuru, as per the direction of the leaders”.