How people wield power in Mahalakshmi Layout

How people wield power in Mahalakshmi Layout

Mahalakshmi Layout JD(S) candidate K Gopalaiah campaigns in a garment factory at Kamakshipalya in Bengaluru. DH PHOTO

The sun was getting hotter by the minute but the JD(S) candidate for Mahalakshmi Layout, K Gopalaiah, was at an intersection in Vrushabhavathi Nagar in Kamakshipalya, trying to find the next bylane where he was yet to canvass.

The roads, hardly 10 feet wide, have three- to five-storey buildings on either side. Those on the first floor would climb down to meet the candidate and there was a cursory exchange of greetings.

When the electorate stood on second or third floors watching him, the sitting MLA raised his hands and greeted them with folded hands, “Namaskara”. He would look up to ensure that greetings from his joined palms were reaching all separate groups huddled together on the balconies.

For a moment, the scene held the essence of ideal democracy where the powerful citizen chooses his representative. But members of the public in the ward rarely speak against the sitting MLA, where his wife S P Hemalatha is corporator.

Gopalaiah and his wife met at the crossroads and chose the streets they wanted to canvass. His supporters would climb the stairs of each building to call out the residents. There was a cursory exchange of words with the sitting MLA asking, “Is there any problem in this area”, and people often replied in the negative.

“Vrushabhavathi Nagar contributed 15,000 votes to my lead in the last elections. I have worked here since 1996 and know these places and people like the back of my hand. I’m confident the numbers will double this year,” Gopalaiah told DH.

His supporters said canvassing started as early as 6.30 am and except for breakfast at 9 am, they have not stopped anywhere.