Mahalakshmi Layout: A fight for survival for Gopalaiah

opalaiah, Mahalakshmi Layout BJP candidate campaign at Mahalakshmi Layout in Bengaluru. (DH file photo)

The outcome of the bypoll to Mahalakshmi Layout will decide whether K Gopalaiah can transcend the caste lines while for the JD(S), it is a question of retaining its last foothold in the Bengaluru city.

JD(S) leadership has been highlighting ‘betrayal’ by Gopalaiah to gain the sympathy of the Vokkaligas, who constitute about 60% of the electorate in the constituency. 

Though BJP had a hold on only one of the seven BBMP wards in the area, two JD(S) corporators - Hemalatha Gopalaiah and M Mahadev gave Gopalaiah and the BJP a much-needed shot in
the arm.

However, it is yet to be seen whether the dominant Vokkaligas turn against Gopalaiah to avenge his betrayal which brought down the government led by H D Kumaraswamy. If the victory margin of 41,000 votes in 2018 is any indication, it is obvious that beating the two-time MLA is going to be a tough task for his rivals.

Interestingly, both the rivals of Gopalaiah are not Vokkaligas. While JD(S) candidate Girish K Nashi is a Lingayat, Congress nominee and Shankar Mutt corporator M Shivaraju, a staunch follower of former chief minister Siddaramaiah, is a Kuruba. 

At the outset, all parties seem to have taken the constituency seriously. Both Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy have campaigned for Nashi, who jumped ship to the JD(S) after he was denied Congress ticket. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has canvassed for Gopalaiah, twice. The Congress candidate, however, has not seen many biggies holding his back except for D K Shivakumar.

The constituency, however, has not seen much progress with the problems reported five years ago remain the same. Problems like traffic chaos on the main roads and the woeful infrastructure in the interiors still persist. However, such issues have been pushed into the backseat in the campaign while the issues like caste, money and muscle power take the driving seat.

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