In Udupi, the Madhwaraj family legacy towers over the rest

Udupi: When it comes to Udupi, one family towers above everyone else-the Madhwarajs. For the last 55 years, the Madhwaraj family is politically active in Udupi City and has remained in the echelons of power – with family members becoming  MLAs, ministers, chairmen of corporations and MPs! The family could be one of the rare few in the Congress with such a long political history.

Three members of the family have contested 10 elections (this is the 11th) out of the 13 held since 1962!  Mr M Madhwaraj contested one election while his wife Manorama contested six and won four times. Fisheries Minister Pramod Madhwaraj has contested thrice and won once. This is his fourth time.

The family entered active politics with industrialist and fishermen community leader Mr M Madhwaraj winning the assembly election in 1962 and re-establishing the INC’s clout in Udupi. Though nobody from the family contested in 1967, Mrs Manorama won Udupi for the Congress in 1972 and 1977. She also entered the state cabinet.

Though defeated by the BJP's V.S. Acharya in 1983, she made a comeback and won the next two elections in 1985 and 1989. She contested again for the sixth time in 1994 but lost to Karnataka Congress Party's U.R. Sabhapathi who later joined the Congress and contested the election on a  Congress ticket in the next two elections.

Though not an MLA, she was made the chief of Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) in the S.M. Krishna government in 1999. In the 2004 parliament election, Manorama joined BJP and won the Udupi Parliament seat. Pramod Madhwaraj made his entry into electoral politics contesting on a Congress ticket in Brahmavar constituency but lost.

He contested next in 2008 from Udupi and lost again. He succeeded in his third attempt in 2013 and also became a minister in the Siddaramaiah government. He has been fielded again as the candidate from Udupi.

"People have supported our family since 1962. It is the goodwill earned by my father and mother which has made us so popular in Udupi. Though our family is in power for so long, we are not involved in any corruption. We help people without asking about their caste and party affiliation. This is the reason party leaders and the public have been blessing us,” Pramod told Deccan Chronicle.

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