Can the Congress party surprise the BJP from the Uttara Kannada (U.K) Parliamentary Constituency in 2024?

By Manjunath K. Shresthi
January 10, 2024


The Uttara Kannada (U.K) constituency in northwest Karnataka bordering Goa, is known as the bastion of Hindutatva, and the BJP has been having a golden run uninterruptedly since 2004. Politics is prone to change and influenced by the prevailing political climate in the state and the country. Politics is the art of the possible, and any candidate can emerge as the frontrunner.

The Congress party made a convincing comeback in May 2023, and Siddaramaiah took oath as the Chief Minister for the second time, after the party defied all calculations and won 136 seats in the 224 member assembly.  But the BJP, takes elections far more seriously and known to spring surprises in an election year. The U.K seat is currently represented by BJP Lok Sabha Member of Parliament A. K. Hegde, he’s been winning the seat continuously since 2004. He was defeated by Mrs. Margaret Alva in 1999, and he won it back in 2004 and his winning streak continues. The seat is considered a safe one for the BJP. The U.K district has a huge geographical area and stretches from Khanapur-Kittur in the north to Bhatkal in the south. The five coastal talukas beginning from north to south are: Karwar, Ankola, Kumta, Honnavar and Bhatkal. The interior talukas are: Joida-Haliyal, Sirsi-Siddapur, Mundagod-Yellapur.

In the 2018 assembly elections, the sole Congress seat was won by R. V. Deshpande representing Haliyal-Dandeli-Joida. The other seats were won by the BJP. But there has been a reversal of political  fortunes for the Congress party in May 2023. The district now has four MLAs, Satish Sail from Karwar-Ankola; Mankal Vaidya from Bhatkal; Bhimanna Naik from Sirsi-Siddapur and R. V. Deshpande from Haliyal assembly seats respectively.  The Kittur assembly seat is represented by Congresses MLA Babasaheb  Patil.

The two surprising facts of Karnataka’s assembly elections were, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited Ankola on May 03, 2023; and yet then BJP’s first-time MLA, lost her seat by a thin margin to Satish Sail of the Congress party. The second notable fact, was the conspicuous absence of BJP’s Anant Kumar Hegde, during the Prime Minister’s visit to canvass for the party. The MP not attending the rally still keeps making headlines in the district.  Will AK Hegde get the Lok Sabha  seat or will the party search for a new face in the upcoming 2024 general elections?

The Congress party too has set a high target of winning the most number of seats in the elections, as it was reduced to one seat in 2019 elections. The party has designated the district-in charges and given them responsibility to win the maximum number of seats. As the Uttara Kannada (U.K) constituency is represented by four Congress MLAs, it has better chances of regaining the seat. There are many aspirants for the said seat, but there are two serious contenders for the seat. A practising lawyer and environmental activist from Sirsi and the other is Adv. G. T. Naik from Karwar.

The seat was last represented by late Devaraya Naik from the Namdhari community for a record number of four times. Adv. Gajanan. T. Naik (G.T. Naik), a native of Siddapur and practicing in Karwar, is a staunch  Congress party loyalist, has a clean image, and never having contested the elections also belongs to the Namdhari community. He is actively involved in all the party’s programs, events and protests against the BJP.  In spite of the communities’ large numbers in the district, the BJP has never considered giving a seat to any member of the Namdhari community till date. Will the Congress party consider them and give the next Lok Sabha seat to one of them? There are surprises in store for all party ticket aspirants in the upcoming elections ahead in April-May 2024?

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