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A race against odds for Congress' Sowmya Reddy in BJP's bastion

In Bangalore South, the narratives do draw on history – the constituency has been with the BJP since 1991 – but also come with themes more immediate and are built on issues ranging from the hyperlocal to the exclusively national.
Last Updated : 13 April 2024, 22:23 IST
Last Updated : 13 April 2024, 22:23 IST

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Bengaluru: What drives electoral narratives in a parliamentary constituency that has backed one political party for eight successive elections? This is what analysts would call a bastion. 

In Bangalore South, the narratives do draw on history – the constituency has been with the BJP since 1991 – but also come with themes more immediate and are built on issues ranging from the hyperlocal to the exclusively national.

M A Srinivas, a retired lawyer in Jayanagar, notes the significance of this local-national interplay in Lok Sabha elections. 

“The entry of Sowmya Reddy (the Congress candidate) has made the contest closer. This election is about what is at stake for the country. You can’t look at it without considering the electoral bonds scam or the threats to individual freedom,” says the 72-year-old.

Of the eight Assembly segments in Bangalore South, five went with the BJP in the 2023 state elections – Basavanagudi, Bommanahalli, Chickpet, Jayanagar and Padmanabhanagar – while the Congress won the other three: BTM Layout, Govindarajanagar and Vijayanagar.

BJP’s Tejasvi Surya is seeking a second consecutive term from the constituency. His 2019 margin over Congress’ B K Hariprasad was about 3.31 lakh votes. True to the party’s Bengaluru playbook, its campaign in Bangalore South has at its centre Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and an aggressive policy pitch for development, seemingly aimed at migrant voters.

The campaign mix

C K Ramamurthy, BJP MLA from Jayanagar, says the party is on course for the ninth win on the trot.

“The campaign highlights achievements by the Centre, from Ayodhya to welfare schemes like Ayushman Bharat. These achievements complement the MP’s contributions in the constituency, including approvals for Metro expansion (phases 2A and 2B) and progress made on the satellite town ring road,” says Ramamurthy, who heads the BJP’s Bangalore South district unit.

The development pitch is lost on Mahroof, a salesman at a grocery-vegetable shop in Bommanahalli. 

Mahroof has seen his neighbourhood, sandwiched between Hosur Road and Bannerghatta Road, grow exponentially over the past 20 years, but he doesn’t attribute it to political will.

“Apartments and businesses have come up and changed the face of the area, but without the infrastructure to back the growth,” he says.

B S Manohar, vice president of Basavanagudi Residents’ Welfare Association, acknowledges BJP’s primacy in the Assembly segment and Surya’s “good work,” but there have been complaints about a lack of access to the MP.

“There is a limit to what an MP can accomplish in terms of local infrastructure,” he says. The question of winnability, then, depends on a mix of variables, some of them outside of the scope of poll manifestos.

In Chickpet, artificial flower dealer Hirachand says business has plummeted post-Covid, forcing him to go retail.

The Rajasthan native who opened shop in 2003 is not too engaged with the campaigns. The election itself appears a formality – “We’ve always voted BJP,” he says.

The ‘we’ Hirachand alludes to are entrenched voters, but neither of the two parties appears complacent about these safe bases. 

In campaigns tailored to engage first-time and younger voters, the focus shifts to the economy and jobs

 There is also a concerted effort by civic groups to get voters to do the essential: to turn up and vote.

The constituency recorded 53.7 per cent turnout in 2019, the lowest in Karnataka.

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Published 13 April 2024, 22:23 IST

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