It's Muniyappa vs BJP in Bangarpet

It's Muniyappa vs BJP in Bangarpet

As Cong banks on union ministers hold, saffron party rains promises ahead of bypoll

If Congress nominee K M Narayanaswamy wins, the credit should go to Muniyappa. If the BJP candidate emerges victorious, it will be a shot in the arm for the saffron party. A JD(S) victory looks like a remote possibility at this juncture in the constituency.

The by-election has been necessitated by M Nara­yanaswamy resigning membership of the Assembly, quitting the Congress and joining the BJP. He had earlier been elected twice as MLA on a JD ticket. In 2008, he had defeated his BJP rival by about 7,000 votes.

The BJP candidate is going around the constituency admitting that he could not do much for the development of Bangarpet as he was elected on a Congress ticket. For the constituency to be put on the development path, he should be re-elected BJP MLA, he tells the voters.

As if to prove M Nara­ya­naswamy’s point, the BJP government released nearly Rs 80 crore for pending development projects in Bangarpet, after the party got Nara­yanaswamy on its side. But in reality, the constituency requires hundreds of crores of rupees to meet the demand for clean drinking water alone.

Bangarpet, 18 km from Kolar and a town bordering both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has remained backward for decades. Muniyappa has a lot of explaining to do on this front as he has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Kolar constituency six times in a row, of which Bangarpet is a segment. In the 13 elections held since 1952, the voters have favoured the Congress eight times in Bangarpet constituency.  

 Muniyappa is striving every nerve and sinew to win the election, but the Congress nominee K M Narayanaswamy, a real estate dealer, does not command much respect in the electorate. He owns a resort that is constructed right outside Bangarpet town. His journey from being a stamp vendor in the taluk office 20 years ago hs taken to the presidentship of the municipality and now to being the Congress candidate for the by-election.

K M Narayanaswamy has been with the Congress since 1991, but hobnobbed with the saffron party for a while, before his rival M Narayanaswamy joined the BJP. The Congressman is contesting for a seat in the Assembly for the first time. Hence, the bypoll is a test of whether the strategist in Muniyappa is able to scuttle BJP’s chances. Though BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ is a major issue raised by Congress leaders during campaigning, it is not an issue for the electorate.

BJP ministers and MLAs have swooped down on this town. Shobha Karandlaje, R Ashoka, Aravind Limbavali and other leaders have been campaigning for the party candidate. Party candidate M Narayanaswamy was a clerk in a co-operative society before entering politics.

Unlike his Congress rival, he is identified by the locals as a soft-spoken and approachable person.
As for the JD(S), it is not much visible in the constituency. Its candidate Venkateshappa, an associate of former chief minister S Bangarappa, is a known party-hopper. He has earlier been in the Congress, JD(S) and BJP. He joined the JD(S) again, just before filing the nomination papers. Of the five hoblis in Bangarpet, Vokkaligas have a sizeable population in three hoblis. H D Kumaraswamy is pinning hopes on his community votes.

Bangarpet was the home constituency of K C Reddy, the first chief minister of Old Mysore State. He hailed from Kyasamballi, a village in Bangarpet. The constituency has seen little development from its days as Bowringpet during the pre-Independence era to Bangarpet post-Independence.

It was rechristened Beth­amangala for some years. During the last reorganisation of Assembly constituencies, it again got the tag of Bangarpet. Call the constituency by any name, it has a long way to go in terms of development. Clean drinking water for people in the constituency is the most crying need.

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