Cong blocks BJP’s inroads into Bengaluru urban

Cong blocks BJP’s inroads into Bengaluru urban

With 22 of the 26 MLAs getting re-elected in Bengaluru, the BJP’s efforts to make inroads into the city’s electoral battleground have remained flat. While the party snatched two seats from the Congress, it lost as many.

The saffron party defeated two of the Congress’ star candidates, RV Devaraj and Priyakrishna, by comfortable margins. The BJP’s Uday Garudachar won from Chickpet while V Somanna finally made a comeback to the Assembly from the Govindarajanagar constituency.

For many, Somanna’s victory in Govindarajanagar wasn’t a big surprise. The outcome in Chickpet has, however, caught the Congress off guard as there was no doubt about Devaraj’s winnability.

The BJP, however, couldn’t hold the ground it had gained in 2013. Y A Narayanaswamy lost Hebbal to the Congress’ Byrathi Suresh, a cousin of KR Puram Congress MLA Byrathi Basavaraj. In Dasarahalli, despite being popular, BJP candidate S Muniraju lost to R Manjunatha of the JD(S) by 10,675 votes.

For the JD(S), the gain in Dasarahalli would look minor when seen against the desertion of two of its city MLAs to the Congress. The desertion by B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan and R Akhanda Srinivasamurthy — two of the seven MLAs whose disqualification is still under litigation — reduced the JD(S) representation in Bengaluru from three to two. The numbers and the fate of the litigation would be irrelevant if the Congress-JD(S) combines comes to power.

In retrospect, the three electoral speeches by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rallies by BJP president Amit Shah didn’t influence the Bengalureans’ voting preference. 

For some of the Congress leaders, the political heat had begun even before the election. For example, Bengaluru Development Minister K J George drew the ire over the controversial steel flyover project and the burning lakes in the city. The five ministers, including those specifically targeted by the prime minister, remained undefeated. In fact, George fared better by widening his margin from 22,853 in 2013 to 53,304 in 2018.

Despite the national-level negative publicity, legislator N A Haris prevailed in Shanthinagar while minister R Roshan Baig seems to have increased his support base in Shivajinagar. The exceptions were Vijayanagar and Byatarayanapura. The BJP’s A Ravi inched closer to Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda by reducing the latter’s victory margin to 5,671 votes while M Krishnappa survived with the skin of his teeth, winning by 2,775. 

Polling took place in Bengaluru amid complaints of names missing from the voters’ list and faulty EVMs reducing the polling hours.

Some civic organisations have suggested that the low turnout (54%) in the city was the result of bogus names on the voters’ list and have demanded a recheck.