High-flying minister faces litmus test

High-flying minister faces litmus test

Sarvagnanagar Constituency Congress Candidate K J George seen during the Campaigning road show with his supporters, Banasawadi in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo/ B H Shivakumar

Two-time winner from Sarvagnanagar K J George and one of the powerful ministers in the Siddaramaiah government faces a new opponent from BJP this time – M N Reddy.

Reddy heads a temple committee which brought the 62-ft-tall Hanuman statue to a disputed government land at Kacharakanahalli. He was the last-minute choice of the BJP as the preferred candidate K Padamanabha Reddy, a corporator, refused to contest. 

George represented Bharatinagar before the delimitation of constituencies in 2008.

In both the 2008 and 2013 elections, Padmanabha Reddy lost to George. Saying that he cannot match George in terms of monetary resources, the corporator suggested Reddy as his replacement.  

Ever since the Siddaramaiah government was formed in 2013, the opposition parties, mainly BJP, targeted George for the first two years. First, he was accused of being responsible for IAS officer D K Ravi’s suicide, then he was accused of abetting DySP M K Ganapathi’s suicide. 

The CBI closed Ravi’s case as a suicide over personal issues, while the Ganapathi suicide case is still being probed by the CBI. George, who resigned as home minister over the Ganapathi suicide case, was later re-inducted as Bengaluru Development Minister.

The constituency covers nine wards. Of them four wards are represented by BJP men and five by Congress corporators. The constituency has a mix of upper middle class, middle class and quite a few slum areas. 

One of the important residential layouts in the constituency is HBR Layout. The residents say that while some works have been executed in the last five years, several have still not commenced. The minister’s namesake, George, president of the HBR Residents’ Welfare Association, said polluted stormwater drain is the major issue here.

“Our MLA initiated and ensured the construction of a ground-level reservoir and also some roads were asphalted. We have been complaining about chemical waste, construction waste being dumped into the SWD. The drain stinks now and has become a garbage-dumping spot,’’ he said.

Some other localities, Banaswadi, Kammanahalli, Kadugondanahalli and Lingarajapura, need a facelift as far as basic infrastructure is concerned. 

“There are many illegal road humps constructed by private persons. These have caused many accidents. With almost equal number of BBMP corporators from the two parties, there is always difference of opinion and people are at the receiving end,’’ Ashok Kumar of Lingarajapuram said.

George is confident of a third consecutive win. “We have ward-wise teams. A lot of work has been done in the last five years and some works need constant follow-up. I am confident that voters will support me,’’ he said.

M N Reddy says, “I am born and brought up in this constituency. I was panchayat member in 1996. The constituency faces hundreds of issues not addressed by the MLA. Traffic is a major issue and construction of a few underpasses that could have solved the problem never materialised. A flyover proposed at the KG Halli railway level crossing has remained on paper.’’

There are a total of 14 candidates, including Prithvi Reddy of AAP. But political enthusiasts see a serious contest between George and M N Reddy.