Good choices for voters of B'lore South

Good choices for voters of B'lore South

Neck and neck contest between Congress’ Nandan Nilekani and BJP’s Ananth Kumar

Bangalore South, that is a keenly watched parliamentary constituency in the country, is witnessing a high-decibel, neck and neck contest between former IT czar Nandan Nilekani of the Congress and the BJP national general secretary and five-time MP H N Ananth Kumar.

When the Congress zeroed in on Nilekani as the candidate, Ananth Kumar’s close aides thought that it will be a cakewalk for the sitting MP. 

But Nilekani, despite being a political novice, proved that he can also slog it out in the political arena, making it a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP. In all, there are 23 candidates in the fray here, including from the JD(S), the AAP and the BSP.

Though Nilekani initially met with opposition from the local party leaders and workers against his candidature, everything began falling in place when it was made known that he was the party high command’s choice and he is willing to toil hard. 

The Congress, which is facing anti-incumbency for being in power for close to a decade, not only found a strong candidate in Nilekani to take on the BJP in its bastion, but also tried to send out a message that it was in favour of candidates with clean image. It is a sort of experiment the Congress has done here. 

Similarities

Both the Congress and the BJP appear to be in equal strength on several key factors that decide the election in the constituency: Both the parties have four MLAs each, both have a strong Vokkaliga leaders on their side (Ramalinga Reddy of the Congress and R Ashoka of the BJP) and both the candidates are Brahmins. Vokkaliga and Brahmin communities dominate the constituency. 

Moreover, both the candidates are facing anti-incumbency factor: While Ananth Kumar is facing it at the constituency level for being five-time MP, Nilekani’s party is facing it for being the ruling party. 

When the BJP candidate sought “vote for change,” the Congress candidate said he wants to usher in change in the constituency. Both the candidates have left no stone unturned to score points over each other. Nearly one month of electioneering saw them spar over diverse issues. 

They tried to target each other on their weak areas. While the former UIDAI chairperson tried to make an issue of a general perception that Ananth Kumar remains inaccessible, the latter raked up ‘misuse’ of Aadhaar data. Nilekani got his party vice president Rahul Gandhi to campaign for him, while Ananth Kumar got his party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Bangalore South is considered a cosmopolitan constituency inhabited by a large number of techies. Besides, the constituency is the house for large number of non-Kannada speaking people. Both the candidates are vying with each other to gain the support of these voters. 

The Congress is finding it tough to woo voters in the Assembly constituencies of Basavanagudi, Padmanabanagar and Bommanahalli. The BJP, on the other hand, is facing some problem in Jayanagar, Chickpet and BTM Layout Assembly constituencies.

Both the parties are claiming that they are ahead of the other in Vijayanagar and Govindrajnagar Assembly constituencies. 

The BJP MLC V Somanna and Congress MLAs and father-son combination- Krishnappa and Priya Krishna are using their clout to the hilt for Ananth Kumar and Nilekani respectively. 

Amid the high-voltage battle between the two national parties, a number of regional parties too are trying to make their presence felt. But AAP candidate Nina P Nayak and JD(S)’ Ruth Manoramma, both social workers, are likely to impact the result. 

It is said the AAP would cut into the BJP votes, and the JD(S) and the BSP would affect the Congress by taking away certain ‘secular’ votes, especially of the minority community.

Above all, Ananth Kumar appears to be heavily banking on the Modi factor to sail through and he has no qualms about seeking votes in his name. Nilekani believes that his clean image in politics and name as a man of ideas would fetch him enough votes to defeat his rival. 

One thing is clear - voters of this constituency this time have good options before them. They can either repose their faith in the sitting MP or settle for a new one hoping that he/she would make a difference they want to see.

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