MANGALORE: The Congress concept of internal elections through a secret ballot for choosing the candidate for the Mangalore Lok Sabha has evinced interest from many contenders. But only three have indicated to throw the hat in the ring — along with veteran B Janardhan Poojary and Harsha Moily.

There may be more contenders once there is clarity on critical parameters like who the voters are; their numbers plus the guidelines deciding on the eligibility of the candidate. KPCC minority Department Vice President UK Monu indicated his interest to contest the Mangalore Lok Sabha. I will definitely contest. KPCC President Parameshwara, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Union ministers Oscar Fernandes, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Rehman Khan have supported my candidature,” he claimed. KPCC Secretary Ivan D’Souzxa and AICC member PV Mohan have also shown interest in contesting the polls. Union petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily’s son Harsha Moily said: secret ballot would make the contest more competitive.

In anticipation, Janardhan Poojary has already fired the first salvo by releasing an advertorial in a vernacular daily listing out his achievements and Harsha has been active in making himself more visible through media by granting interviews.

There is a view from one quarter the guidelines may be such that Poojary will be automatically eliminated to pave way contest for a new face. A Poojary confidante said: let’s not be hypothetical about the guidelines. We will cross the bridge when it comes to it. The AICC will release the guidelines at all India level because 15 constituencies will face this type of process. Moreover the process itself may be flawed if party workers from grassroots level don’t get to vote. How can a secret ballot by 500 or so be democratic?”

A top party functionary here said: This (secret ballot) is not a good idea in the least. When Poojary’s name was sent by the District Congress Committee, there was no need for such a move. I agree that Poojary is dictatorial when it comes to certain things, but can we find person as loyal, a role model and a hard worker with a squeaky clean image?

Another party functionary asked: When Mangalore South saw a new face in the form of bureaucrat JR Lobo, why not a new face for Lok Sabha? Poojary’s mistake is that he never prepared a second rung leader which is now showing. Poojary cannot do anything since it was Harsha’s name that cropped up. If it was anybody else, Poojary would have steamrolled him.

But majority in the party admit that with the current image UPA II, this confusion was most unnecessary. Even without this confusion, we had problems in winning this segment. Whichever way this goes, It will be a mess and will lead to development of another group,” said an internal party sources.

Courtesy: Times of India