Battle equally poised in Bangalore North

Battle equally poised in Bangalore North

Cong’s Narayanaswamy, BJP’s Sadananda Gowda slug it out in what is considered ‘safe seat’

A straight fight between the Congress and the BJP is on the cards in the Bangalore North Lok Sabha constituency. Aspirants from both the Congress and the BJP vied with each other to grab a party ticket from the constituency, even as the top brass of the respective parties had a tough time finalising their candidates.

In the Congress, C Narayan­asw­amy had to fight and win the party internal election (primary) to get a ticket. The competition was fiercer in the BJP, and finally former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda managed to get the ticket.

The main reason for the clamour for the ticket from Bangalore North is that both the BJP and the Congress consider it a safe seat albeit for different reasons.

The Bangalore North Lok Sabha segment has large pockets of fast-developing areas with a sizeable number of voters from the North Indian states, which the BJP considers as its vote bank. It is also a constituency which has the highest number of voters (23 lakh) in the entire State.

The segment has around 8.5 lakh voters in the age group of 18-30 years, which the BJP feels have a leaning towards it. These factors, coupled with the Modi factor, had the BJP categorise the constituency as A-star (high factor of winning).

The Congress, on the other hand, is thinking on the caste lines – a combination of Vokkaligas, SC/STs and OBCs totalling around nine lakh – along with the two lakh Muslim votes, which could tilt the electoral fortunes in its favour. But the decision of the Janata Dal (Secular) to field a Muslim candidate – police officer-turned-politician and former MLC Abdul Azim – has proved to be a dampener for an otherwise politically confident Congress.

A tour of the constituency reveals that the Muslims are likely to prefer the JD(S) to the Congress or the BJP, both of whom have fielded candidates from the Vokkaliga community. If the Muslims walk with the JD(S), then it would prove disadvantageous to the Congress.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Prof Babu Mathew, a trade union activist and former registrar of the National Law School of India University, is silently working in certain “strong” pockets, thus denting the vote bank of the Congress. The newly added voters number around 2.74 lakh and at least 50 per cent of them might choose the AAP and the BJP is the Congress’ hunch.

The Grand Old Party is trying hard to portray Sadananda Gowda as an outsider (he hails from Puttur) and Naray­ana­swamy as a thorough local born and brought up in the constituency. But Gowda has countered this factor by portraying himself as a ‘clean man’ and a former chief minister. He has the backing of the local Vokkaliga leaders R Ashoka, Dr Ashwathnarayana and Muniraju, among others.

In many pockets, there are diehard fans of Modi. This section of the electorate would anyway vote for the BJP irrespective of the candidate. But at the same time, the BJP has much to worry as it has no presence in the Assembly segment of Pulakeshinagar (the party candidate lost his deposit in the 2013 polls) and the internal turmoil among the party cadre in the Yeshwantpur constituency.

Narayanaswamy, a one-time JD(S) man, also has a clean and secular image. Probably, he lagged behind Gowda who unleashed a blitzkrieg of publicity material through the media during the hustings. Still, this migrant to the Congress is confident of a victory because he had won the seat as a JD(S) candidate in 1996.

He is a Marasu Vokkaliga, a Vokkaliga sub-caste. The Congress hopes Narayanaswamy would attract the votes of this particular sub-caste whose population in the constituency is put at five lakh.

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