Tapping B'lore Rural anti-incumbency challenge for BJP

Last Updated 12 April 2019, 06:39 IST

India’s third largest parliamentary seat, Bangalore Rural, formed as part of the delimitation process in 2008, is set to witness a direct battle between the Congress-JD(S) coalition and the BJP.

There are 15 candidates in the fray in this Vokkaliga bastion, comprising eight Assembly segments.

The BJP has pitted Ashwath Narayan Gowda against sitting MP D K Suresh, the coalition candidate.

This rural, semi-urban and partially metropolitan constituency has always witnessed an electoral battle for local supremacy between political heavyweights.

Suresh derives political strength from the wealth of electoral experiences of his brother D K Shivakumar. He has patched up with the Congress local leaders, following a rift, and is ahead in electioneering. But voters say Suresh is inaccessible to voters.

“He is inaccessible to us. Nobody knows whether he has opened his mouth in Parliament. He claims he has brought many projects, but we don’t see anything,” a GP member from Bidaraguppe in Anekal taluk says.

Undercurrents against him may influence the way the electorate votes, spoiling his dream of a hat-trick.

Ground realities suggest a far rockier terrain for the MP. Local residents reckon that Suresh has failed to make a difference, but they are left with no option in the absence of a strong contender in the fray.

Suresh is exploiting the BJP’s inability to penetrate beyond the urban environs. He is also banking on the caste factor.

“What matters in our region is caste. Vokkaligas may vote largely for Suresh, even though his rival too is from the same caste,” Range Gowda, a farmer from Kanakapura, says.

“For the BJP, the agricultural landscape suggests a sign of a good harvest this time. However, the will and focus are not there. Suresh will have to sit back in his house if the saffron party goes all out,” says Ramakanth, a hotelier in Magadi.

“A maiden BJP victory here depends on how effectively Ashwath Narayan Gowda converts the tide against Suresh in his favour,” he says, indicating the situation in the JD(S)-Congress turf.

The BJP is attempting to cash in on conflicts and factionalism among the alliance partners. The ‘Narendra Modi wave’ may turn the tide in BJP’s favour.

The party seems to have risked its chance by announcing the candidate at the eleventh hour. Gowda, an outsider, is not much known to voters.

“C P Yogeeshwara or Suresh B Gowda as candidate may have worked wonders for the BJP,” a party functionary remarks.

The BJP is set for a respectable show in Channapatna, Bangalore South, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Magadi and Kunigal towns, while the coalition candidate has an edge in Ramanagar, Anekal, Kanakapura and in the rural areas. Finally, it is the rural electorate which will make or break Suresh’s fate.

(Published 11 April 2019, 17:44 IST)

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