For Shantinagar voters, pub attack seems a non-issue

For Shantinagar voters, pub attack seems a non-issue

MLA NA Harris

From the chockablock traffic on MG Road and surrounding areas to the overflowing drains and water scarcity in at least three of its wards, Shantinagar has many issues.

The challenge for sitting MLA N A Haris, however, is to counter accusations of ‘Goondaraj’ stemming from an incident involving his son Mohammed Nalapad, who assuaulted a youth at a pub.

Opposition parties have focussed on the Nalapad saga during their campaign, keeping it as a peg for their allegations of cronyism and failure of law and order.

Of the seven BBMP wards in the constituency, four have BJP corporators while the Congress has
its representatives in Neelasandra and Shantinagar. Its rebel candidate in Domlur, C R Lakshminarayan, had announced that he was a ticket aspirant. But Haris has prevailed and seeks to score a third straight victory.

“I have carried out some of the works which were pending for decades. From basic works like retaining walls for drains, RO plants and drinking water lines to TenderSure roads and Church Street project, I have shown my performance,” Haris said.

On the rehabilitation of families that lost homes following demolition of EWS quarters in Ejipura, he said work was on to provide alternative housing but the pace was slow due to stay orders by the court. “We have built 7,000 houses in the area. The rehabilitation project is on our priority list,” he said.

Asked how his son’s episode will impact his candidature, the MLA said he was confident that people will not judge him for his son’s mistake.
“We can only correct him and ensure such things will not happen again. I believe I will be judged based on my work and my relationship with people,” he said.

K Vasudevamurty, who lost to Haris as a JD(S) candidate by a
margin of 20,000 votes, hopes that the “clean party” image of the BJP will help him defeat the Congress leader. “I got 35,000 votes in 2013 on my personal capacity as the JD(S) has no base in the area. As the
BJP candidate, I stand for clean
politics and will win this election,” he said.

Vasudevamurty said people were disillusioned with Haris. “Law and order hascollapsed and those who
are close to Haris do not fear anything. Peace has disappeared. At the same time, civic issues have been totally ignored. The MLA claims credit for works done by BBMP,” he said.

The candidature of retired IAS officer Renuka Vishwanathan has also roused the interest of many, with some seeing an undercurrent of yearning for change in the constituency.

The AAP candidate, who has been canvassing across the constituency without breaks during the afternoons, said she has the support  of people who seek change. “Money and muscle power have relegated ideology and policy to the background. In established parties, corruption is so predominant that even good leaders can’t resist it. People say they have no other option except voting for NOTA, I am offering them a positive alternative,” she said. While those in the urban centres like Brigade Road and Langford Town see Haris as an accessible leader who understands, the masses spread across the wards have mixed views.

Brigade Road Establishments’ Association president Suhail Yusuf said Haris was more avai able than the corporators.“The central business district has also seen a good measure of development. Be it TenderSure projects or the Church Street makeover, we have got proactive response,” he said.

In other wards, residents are frustrated with poor water supply, clogged dains and leaking manholes. Shivakumar V, secretary of
Domlur Residents’ Welfare Association, said officials have failed to check building violations which has led to multifold increase in the sewage quantity beyond the capacity of the sanitary lines.

“On the other hand, the encroachment of drains goes unchecked. BBMP and BWSSB officials have ignored our constant reminders in this regard,” he said.