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Cong, BJP are close contestants

Vijesh Kamath, Bangalore, May 3, 2013, DHNS :
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In the Sarvagnanagar Assembly constituency, the minorities have become majority and the vice versa.

Of the 14 candidates in the fray, 13 are from minority communities, while the sole candidate from the majority community is from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Minority communities including Tamil or Malayalam-speaking Christians and Muslims form a huge chunk of the 2.8-lakh electorate in the constituency.

Sitting MLA K J George, a Malayalee Christian settled in the City, is seeking re-election on a developmental plank.

George would have enjoyed the backing of minority votes this time too had not the BJP fielded a corporator who is an experienced politician. It is estimated that 50 per cent of the total voting population is minorities— 36,500 Christians and 36,000 Muslims.

The entry of the BJP candidate into the fray was quite dramatic. Just a week prior to the close of nominations, three time corporator and sitting member of the Kacharakanahalli ward in the BBMP Council Padmanabha Reddy quit the Janata Dal (Secular) to join the BJP.
Reddy was upset that his seniority had been ignored in the JD(S) and the party ticket was given to a political greenhorn Syed Mohid Altaf, who is close to JD(S) leader Zameer Ahmed Khan.

A fuming Reddy joined the saffron brigade which in turn upset local BJP leaders. Three BJP corporators from the constituency - Kodanda Reddy, Govindaraju and Srinivas - opposed his entry. Local BJP leader M N Reddy was aspiring to contest from the constituency.

But unmindful of the protests, Reddy became the BJP candidate, thanks to Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka. In the 2008 polls, Reddy, who had then contested on a JD(S) ticket, had emerged third in the race. Three weeks down the line after the protests, things seems to have settled down for Reddy. He has taken the BJP corporators and workers on his side.

Supporters of Reddy feel a split in minority votes due to the large number of candidates from minority communities in fray can turn the tide in favour of their leader. On his part, George lists out his developmental programmes as his winning card.

These include wider coverage of drinking water supply, improvement of drainage system, opening of community centres, development of parks, issue of possession certificate to the poor, among others.

The Karnataka Janata Party candidate from the constituency is Michael Fernandes, brother of former Union Minister George Fernandes.

He is looking at the votes of the large number of working class electorate employed in various factories. However, Fernandes had taken a long break from electoral politics and is yet to strike a rapport with the electorate.

A straight fight between the Congress and the BJP is on the cards.


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