BJP struggles to retain its old fort

BJP struggles to retain its old fort

With development taking a backseat in the constituency, the BJP appears to be on a shaky wicket in the Chickpet Assembly segment which had been the political bastion of the saffron party for long.

Chickpet constituency, which mainly comprises old Bangalore localities, is witnessing a contest between two political novices - BJP’s Uday Garudachar and JD-S’ M C Narayana Gowda — and a old warhorse – Congress’ R V Devaraj. While Garudachar is a businessman, Gowda is a retired police officer.

People in many parts of the constituency are not happy with the performance of sitting BJP MLA Dr Hemachandra Sagar, whose family is into business. Common complaints are that he is inaccessible, indifferent to people’s woes and lacks interest in developmental works.

As a result, the constituency continues to be a den of civic problems. However, Sagar to show on record, has brought out a thick booklet, listing out the year-wise and ward-wise developmental projects implemented in the last few years.

Anyway, Sagar is not the candidate this time, though he continues to be in the BJP. It is said he did not show interest in seeking re-election for reasons best known to him. But the party’s candidate, Garudachar, appears to be having a tough time in convincing the electorate that he will remain accessible to them.

The reason why the party chose Garudachar is the presence of a large business community in the constituency. Garudachar is the Managing Director of Maverick Holdings Pvt Ltd. The BJP has won Chickpet seat in the last four elections. But Garudachar's commitment to public service is being questioned.

Congress candidate and two-time MLA Devaraj, who was defeated in the last election by a margin of about 7,000 votes, is carefully moving the political pawns: He has made development and the accessibility of the MLA major issues while seeking votes. The anti-incumbency factor faced by the sitting MLA has become the Congress' advantage.

Besides, he is banking on the votes of the minority community (around 25,000) and SCs and OBCs (around 45,000), which are considered to be Congress votebanks, though caste has not played a key role in any election held in the past here. A staunch follower of former chief minister S M Krishna, he is promises to  ensure transparency in delivery of public services.

Underdeveloped pockets

Intense campaigning by JD-S candidate Narayana Gowda has left Devaraj worried. Gowda, who has remained faithful to the Deve Gowda clan, is concentrating on  underdeveloped pockets. Gowda has been claiming that being a retired police officer, he understands people’s problems better and can deliver results. The Congress, as a result, is hoping against hope that the minority community votes do not get divided because of the presence of the JD(S) in the fray.

As polling day nears, the fight may narrow down to that between the BJP and the Congress. If the BJP's committed voters stand by its candidate, the Congress will have no chance. But the question is whether there are loyal voters still left for the BJP here, who can deny victory for the Congress.

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