The five-time consecutive MLA of Kundapur in Udupi district, Halady Srinivas Shetty, has shown consistency and resilience in increasing his vote share in every election since 1999, securing the best of 65.20 % in 2018. He ran for the BJP for four terms (1999, 2004, 2008 and 2018) and as an independent candidate in 2013, where he achieved more success in pushing the BJP to the third position. Despite being challenged by the Congress, Halady’s voteshare constantly edged higher from 50.13 in 1999 to 55.75 in 2004, 57.49 in 2008 and 57.97 in 2013.
The BJP’s ability to use Halady as an asset to their cause was undeniable. His personal charisma, coupled with the rapport with the people, made him a natural choice to ensure BJP continued to hold their place in the constituency. Moreover, it was observed that the Congress continually put similar candidates with the same community and background to challenge the long-term Independent. This strategy backfired in 2013, as the Congress’ voteshare dipped from 37.37 in 2008 to 28.75 in 2013 and forced them out of their winning position.
Those in the BJP camp have indicated that Halady took the decision not to contest in the coming Assembly Election on his own wish, and not due to any pressure from the party. There appears to be no valid reason for the BJP to ask Halady to step away, as he could have succeeded as an Independent in 2013 and this indicates the party will be running with a fresh face in the May 2021 election.
K. Jayaprakash Hegde, chairman of the Karnataka State Permanent Backward Classes Commission, and A. Kiran Kumar Kodgi, vice-chairman of the Karnataka Food, and Civil Supplies Corporation, both have their names floated as potential contenders to replace Halady. Nevertheless, the end of the road is near for Halady’s long-term dominance in the constituency, setting an example for resilient politicking and growth in votes throughout his campaigns.