Direct fight between experience and fresh blood

Congress nominee upbeat about unsettling sitting BJP MP; JD(S), AAP seen as also-ran

Practically speaking, it is essentially a fight between experience and fresh blood in the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency.

The sitting MP, P C Mohan of the BJP, is striving to consolidate his vote bank while his main challenger, Rizwan Arshad of the Congress, is aiming to enter Parliament for the first time.

Other candidates, former Infosys CFO, V Balakrishnan of the Aam Aadmi Party, and socialite and danseuse Nandini Alva of the JD(S) are also seeking their maiden entry into Parliament.

Comprising mainly of minority population—religious and linguistic—the constituency is likely to see a close fight between the two national parties. Carved out of Bangalore North and Bangalore South constituencies in 2009, Bangalore Central was represented for the first time by Mohan who had been a two-time MLA. But a year before, he had lost to Dinesh Gundu Rao of the Congress in the Gandhinagar Assembly seat. In the 2009 elections, the minority vote bank in Bangalore Central had split as both the JD(S) and the Congress fielded minority faces. The result was an easy win for Mohan.
As things stand now, the Congress has four MLAs out of eight and two of them are ministers.

The BJP has three MLAs who are known as ardent and faithful party workers. The JD(S) has one but strong MLA, B Z Zameer Ahmad Khan from Chamarajpet. But he may not be of much help to Alva who is seen as a late entrant to a City which is not considered a JD(S) bastion.

While 34-year-old Arshad is trying to impress upon voters the need to encourage the youth, Mohan is banking on his relatively clean image to seek people’s mandate.
Arshad’s controversial candidature—he was handpicked by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi over old warhorse C K Jaffer Sharief—has created considerable heartburn among local Muslim leaders of the Congress. His rapid rise in politics, on account of his proximity to Rahul, may work against him. He is seen more as a threat to the established Muslim leaders in the State. As a result, his popularity may become a double-edged sword in his pursuit for victory.

The BJP calculates that two Congress MLAs, R Roshan Baig and N A Haris, may not fully throw their weight behind Arshad, thereby ensuring an easy victory for Mohan. But what could work for Arshad is that the 2.1 lakh Muslim votes in this constituency may incline to back him, mainly on anti-Modi logic.

Mohan, for his part, is banking on the Modi factor along with a strong local support in Rajajinagar, Mahadevapura and C V Raman Nagar constituencies, which are BJP bastions. Mohan believes his amiable personality and being accessible to voters would help him sail through.

Arshad has countered that by aggressively reaching out to voters, a method Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda employed in Bangalore South in 2009, but could not unsettle H N Ananth Kumar of the BJP.

Arshad’s victory would depend largely on his equation with Sharief who has so far backed him despite being denied the ticket.

The urban, educated middle-class voters—the traditional vote bank of the BJP—may be spoilt for choice and may shift to Balakrishnan or Alva.

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