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Karnataka Elections 2018: No Big Battles in Capital Bengaluru; Low Voter Turnout Worries Parties

Since the voting is on a Saturday, many fear that voting percentage will be less this time too. Bengaluru is notorious for residents’ disinterest in exercising their right to vote. In the last 20 years, the voting percentage has remained below 60% in all elections in Bengaluru.

D P Satish | News18.comdp_satish

Updated:May 4, 2018, 8:50 AM IST
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Karnataka Elections 2018: No Big Battles in Capital Bengaluru; Low Voter Turnout Worries Parties
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress put out a series of tweets on corruption charges linked to the BJP's presumptive chief minister BS Yeddyurappa. Siddaramaiah is seen to have worked out his own counter-strategy to every move of the BJP in the run-up to the state elections. (Cartoon by Mir Suhail)
Bengaluru: Jayakumar is an auto driver and a voter in Shanthinagara Assembly seat in central Bengaluru. He claims that local Congress MLA N A Haris’ son Mohammad Nalapad’s alleged 'goondagiri' will not have much impact on his chances of winning this time.

Speaking to News18, he said, “It is true that it became a big issue when that incident happened at UB City. We all know that the son is a bad character. He is in jail. The father has already paid the price for allowing his son to do such things. I think many will still vote for him”.

Many others in the constituency echo similar sentiments. Kumar, a resident of Richmond Town, said that the BJP has fielded a weak candidate against Haris and it may help him win despite the negative image.

Even though the BJP is trying to make the activities of Haris’ son a big issue in the constituency, it has not been successful so far. BJP’s chief ministerial face B S Yeddyurappa himself campaigned in Shanthinagara attacking Haris a week ago. But the public response was mild.

The BJP has fielded former deputy mayor of Bengaluru Vasudevamurthy against Haris. Interestingly, a retired IAS officer Renuka Vishwanathan is also taking on Haris as an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate. But both are still struggling to take on Haris’ well-oiled election machinery.

Speaking to News18, Haris said that people vote him based on the public work he has done in the last 10 years and he has already apologised for what his son has done.

The situation is no different in most of the constituencies in Bengaluru. Ground reports suggest that almost all big guns from the state capital are likely to hold on to their respective seats this time too.

There are 28 Assembly seats in Bengaluru city and the Congress, the BJP and the JDS won 12, 13 and 3 seats respectively in the 2013 Assembly polls. Stalwarts of city politics KJ George, Roshan Baig, Dinesh Gundurao, Zameer Ahmad Khan, R V Devaraj, M Krishnappa, R Ramalingareddy, Krishna Byregowda of the Congress; Sureshkumar, Katta Subramanya Naidu, R Ashoka and Aravind Limbavali of the BJP; and Gopalaiah of the JDS are contesting once again.

According to political observers, all of them are looking comfortable in their respective seats and may sail through one more time unless there is a strong BJP wave which has so far been missing.

Till a month ago, the BJP was talking about changing its strategy for Bengaluru and making surprise changes to the candidates list. But the final list has the same old names, wth the addition of some new faces who are not really stronger candidates. On the other hand, the Congress has fielded two JDS defectors and they are hopeful of winning their seats on “hand” symbol.

BJP veteran and former minister S Sureshkumar is facing a strong candidate this time. Former Mayor of Bengaluru Padmavathi is taking on the strongman from Rajajinagara in western part of the city. She had lost to him by 10,000 votes in 2008.

Former minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, who had gone to jail in a land scam case, has been given the BJP ticket from Shivajinagara against Roshan Baig and the seat is witnessing an interesting fight. But Baig is confident of a seventh win. Speaking to News18, he said “I have done a lot in my constituency. All castes and religions vote me. There is no contest here”.

Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy has fielded his daughter Sowmya Reddy against BJP MLA B N Vijayakumar in Jayanagara. An RSS worker Vijayakumar is known as a decent politician in the constituency and has already won twice from here.

Former minister and BJP MLA Aravind Limbavali is also facing a tough fight in Mahadevapura seat. Limbavali has won from this reserved seat for the SCs twice and is hopeful of making it to the Vidhana Soudha for the third consecutive term.

Both Congress and BJP workers at the local level allege that party MLAs have an “understanding” and normally don’t field strong candidates against each other. A senior Congress worker said, “It is an open secret in Bengaluru politics. Many of our top MLAs have a “deal” with the BJP and vice versa. The BJP wins all three Lok Sabha seats in the city for the same reason. Our own MLAs help them indirectly”.

BJP chief Amit Shah had earlier warned his party MLAs against having any kind of “deals” with the Congress. “Our MLAs are scared of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. This time they may not help their friends in the Congress,” said a BJP worker from Jayanagara.

The BJP is also worried about low voter turnout in the IT city. Bengaluru is notorious for voters disinterest in exercising their right to franchise. In the last 20 years, the voting percentage has remained below 60% in all elections in Bengaluru.

Since the voting is on a Saturday, many fear that voting percentage will be less this time too. Bengaluru has close to 90 lakh voters and has seen rise of almost 20 lakh voters since the 2013 Assembly elections.

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