In Hosakote, Cong-BJP fight may go down to the wire

Hosakote congress candidate MTB Nagaraju during the Avimukteswara Swamy Bramhamahothsava at Hosakote.

Development is the sole agenda on which the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP are fighting the May 12 elections in Hosakote, an emerging satellite town about 30 km from Bengaluru.  

Most poll-time conversations that take place in the interiors of Hosakote revolve around water and road infrastructure, with opinions divided on how Congress’ N Nagaraju (MTB) has performed as the sitting legislator.

“Work on this road has been inaugurated seven times in the last five years, but no work actually takes place,” one villager in Anugondanahalli pointed out.

In Arehalli, the talk was about how Nagaraju has ensured cleaning up of clogged drains and availability of borewells to meet drinking water needs.

Locals also complained about the lack of pure drinking water units — filters, as they simply call them.  

The BJP has fielded 36-year-old Sharath, the son of former Hosakote legislator B N Bachegowda, to wrest the constituency that was once his pocket borough. Bachegowda has represented Hosakote ever since he was with the Janata Dal, 1994 onward.

Nagaraju managed to infiltrate the constituency for the first time in 2004. However, he lost to Bachegowda in 2008 only to win again in the previous 2013 polls. The sizeable Muslim population of Hosakote could work in Nagaraju’s favour.

In a report, real estate portal CommonFloor had christened Hosakote as “another Navi Mumbai in the making” owing to rapid industrialisation that has opened new opportunities for people whose primary occupation was agriculture and horticulture. The Narasapura industrial area, for example, has emerged as an auto hub housing Volvo and Honda among other companies.

“The biggest problem we see here is employment for youth. You’ll not believe it, but there are homes with 2-3 youngsters who are struggling to find jobs,” said Sriram, a member of the Anugondanahalli gram panchayat. This is where locals swear Sharath could give Nagaraju a tough fight, because he enjoys the support of youngsters.

Hosakote is about 16 km away from Bengaluru’s software nerve centre of Whitefield, which has led to the mushrooming of realty projects here.

This marks the changing face of Hosakote, which had earned a notorious sobriquet of ‘Mini Bihar’ because of rampant murders, riots and group clashes owing to political rivalry.

“This was true 10-15 years ago, but things have changed,” Sharath said. “Politically, the Hosakote constituency is highly polarised, in that you won’t find a single neutral household. It’s either a Congress home or a BJP home.”

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In Hosakote, Cong-BJP fight may go down to the wire

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