Ashoka's stranglehold may see him through

Ashoka's stranglehold may see him through

Over a period, he has turned this constituency into his invincible citadel by positioning nine ‘satraps’ in the wards.

Weather in Bangalore this year is unus­ually hot, they say. But the cool electorate of Padmanabhanagar seem to defy the notion of ‘climate change’ in their constituency.
Elsewhere in Bangalore, election campaigning may have further hotted up a scorching summer, but in Padmanabhanagar, electioneering is yet to hot up.

The familiar exuberance during elections is by and large missing and is witnessed mainly around the candidates, their residences, offices and their die-hard supporters who sport party flags atop a huge convoy of SUVs.

A saffron bastion, this constituency is represented by Deputy Chief Minister R Ashoka, an RSS man, for the last 16 years. He represented this part of Bangalore, which was a portion of the then Uttarahalli constituency, in the Assembly from 1997 to 2004.

He continued to represent it even after Padmanabhanagar constituency was carved out of Uttarahalli. Over a period of time, Ashoka turned this constituency into his invincible citadel by positioning nine satraps in the form of nine corporators in the wards of the constituency.

Extinct water bodies

Ashoka, who is also the incharge minister of Bangalore, is quite confident about his victory citing development works in the constituency. But some of the residents do not think so. A section of his electorate mock the claims, pointing to the pathetic state of two water bodies at Chikkalsandra and Gowdanapalya, which have gone extinct over the last 10 years.

The minister has a ready reply to these questions. “Litigations hinder the development of the two water bodies.” Criticism does not ruffle him, for he is aware of his strength, which lies in the weakness of his rivals, the Congress and JD(S).

The two prominent parties never believed in repeating a losing candidate against him. The hunt for a winning horse in Padmanabhanagar every election led to the gradual loss of their electoral base, which helped Ashoka grow stronger.

In the last Assembly election, the JD(S) and Congress had pitted Kabaddi Babu and Gurappa Naidu, respectively, against him. This time, the Congress denied Naidu a ticket to accommodate a young Turk, albeit a novice to electoral politics, Chethan Gowda, who harps on his political legacy.

Son of L R Shivarame Gowda of the Congress, 31-year-old Chethan believes victory belongs to him because “the people of Padmanabhanagar are fed up with rampant corruption and garbage problem.”

He points to many projects which have not served the purpose in the constituency.

Oasis in desert

Surprisingly, the JD(S) has fielded a political novice against a veteran such as Ashoka. Padmanabhanagar is like the headquarters of the Deve Gowda clan. But the party has settled for a soft candidate. It has fielded Dr M R V Prasad, a doctor by profession and a vocalist by hobby. He is a fresher in electoral politics. Prasad says, “The deterioration of politics, breakdown of governance and rampant corruption made me contest the election.”

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