Old Jain centre Karkala remains an enigma

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Karkala (Karnataka), May 7 : This small town on the foothills of Western Ghats in Karnataka, known for a giant statue of Jain saint Bahubali, is slowly waking up for the Assembly elections on May 22 .

Development and caste equations seem to be the important factors that would sway the voters.

The town has a cosmopolitan culture. Besides, caste loyalties new issues like Naxalism and communal violence are engaging the electorate's attention.

Among the dominant parties, the BJP has nominated Sunil Kumar and the Congress has selected Gopal Bhandari as the contestants.

Sunil Kumar said, "This small constituency has 141,741 voters out of which 65,108 are men and 76,639 are women. Women hold the key in this constituency. A look at the caste combination gives a clear idea. Hindus are the largest in this constituency with over 186,000, followed by over 14,000 Christians, 12,000 Muslims and 4,500 Jains. The cast combination plays a major key role in the constituency."

Gopal Bhandari, who is confident of succeeding in the elections, said: "Karkala symbolizes a spirit of communal harmony." Bhandari hopes to use the development issue as his poll plank.

The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are using the Hindu plank to woo the voters for Sunil Kumar--a strong RSS worker.

According to analysts, the Gowda Saraswatha Brahmins and Billwas hold the card. .

The town Karkala , under the backdrop of Western Ghats, is known for the huge monolithic statue of Bahubali and many Basadis, mosques and churches.

Like the giant statue of Gomateshwara, people too are guarded in expressing their choice in this highly literate constituency. by K.G. Vasuki

ANI

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