Contesting the upcoming Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections may not be easy for newcomers fielded by the three main parties, but their confidence belies their political naivety.
Many newcomers are in the fray because sitting corporators are unable to contest for two reasons: half of the seats are reserved for women and the reservation in the wards they represented earlier has been changed. But facing a civic election in a city like Bengaluru, where each ward has anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 voters, is not easy for beginners in politics.
People in Bengaluru, by and large, are indifferent to the BBMP elections. Many of them are not even aware that their city will witness an election in less than two weeks for a new civic body, let alone know about the candidates in their respective wards.
Yet, the confidence of candidates who are contesting for the first time is amazing. They talk as if they are seasoned politicians like Siddaramaiah or Narendra Modi, whom the public knows for decades.
Be it a homemaker who became a candidate overnight or a vendor who got a party ticket by fluke, all are confident that voters know them well and facing the electoral battle is a cakewalk.
Take the example of C Ravi, the JD (S) candidate in Vasanthnagar (ward 93). A class 8 dropout, he was working with Ganjam, a jewellery store, until two years ago. He strived for three months to get the ticket.
Do people in the ward know him well and why should they vote for him? His reply oozes confidence. “People are with me. I’m popular as ‘Gold Ravi’. I have been with the JD(S) for the last five years. I’m a social worker. I campaign from 6 am to 9 pm.”
Another newcomer is Balakrishna aka Appu, the BJP candidate from Jayamahal (ward 63). The 34-year-old Balakrishna, who runs a welding business, dropped out of BA course. His rival is the Congress’s M K Gunashekar, a seasoned former corporator.
Don’t the people ask him about the scams in the BBMP during the BJP regime? “I organise Ganesha festival every year. I’m a familiar face for local people. (BJP leader) Nirmal Surana handpicked me for the polls. After Modi became prime minister, corruption is no more an issue,” Balakrishna asserted.
Sumangala, the wife of Keshav, is another political novice who is testing her fortunes in Aramane Nagar (ward 35). Her husband receives all her phone calls. “People will go by my reputation and track record and vote for my wife. I’m a businessman. I wasn’t lucky enough to get the ticket but I’m working for the succes of my wife. I’ve been with the BJP for many years now.”
Another new entrant to politics is Jayanthi Pai, the JD(S) candidate in Aramane Nagar. A homemaker, she is the daughter of G Srinivas Kamath, the JD(S) chief in Malleswaram. Kamath answers all her phone calls while she is busy in the door-to-door campaign.
Kamath said: “My daughter understands politics. Actor Ananth Nag has promised to campaign for her.” But Jayanthi was more realistic when she said: “I’m new to politics. I’m not familiar with this field.”
Imran Sharief, the Congress candidate for Padarayanapura (ward 135), has the confidence of a seasoned campaigner. He is a BA graduate and his family runs the Kinto Educational Society. On Wednesday evening, he was busy in a door-to-door campaign.
When asked about the difficulties, if any, in reaching out to people, he said: “Not difficult... I am known in the area.”