BENGALURU: A visit to Bengaluru is considered incomplete without a stroll on MG Road, Brigade Road and visiting the pubs and malls around this posh hub of Bengaluru.
Shantinagar takes pride in having these prime spots of central business district amidst residential areas that are steeped in poverty. One can’t miss the bustling Johnson market too.
With a predominant presence of Muslim, Christian, Dalit and Tamilian voters, Shantinagar has been a safe bet for Congress with party MLA N A Haris finding no significant local leaders from BJP or JD(S) to challenge him.
While the BJP is yet to strike strong roots here, efforts of JD(S) to make a foray into the vote base of the minorities has not yielded desired results. As a result, Congress does not have much to worry as it enjoys the added advantage of being in power in the state.
The constituency comprises seven wards - Jogupalya, Shantala Nagar, Domlur, Agaram, Vannarpet, Nilasandra and Shanthinagar. Of these, Congress had bagged four and BJP two, while an independent, Shivakumar, won from Shantalanagar ward. Considering Haris’ victory in the assembly elections in 2013, Congress senses bright chances of grabbing Domlur and Jogupalaya wards from BJP in the civic elections.
Last time, BJP’s Geetha Srinivas Reddy from Domlur edged out Congress and was growing strong in BJP. But as per the roster, this ward has now been reserved for the backward community.
BJP may find it tough in Domlur as C R Lakshminarayan who served the party for over 30 years and also had installed a free drinking water plant in the area, is contesting as a rebel candidate. Congress candidate N Janakiram, who is related to BJP’s rebel candidate Lakshminarayan, can heave a sigh of relief as the vote split could work in his favour.
Besides, Uday Reddy, son of former MLA Srinivas Reddy and also temple trustee of Kodanda Ramaswamy temple and vice-president of Domlur Welfare Association who has a large say in Domlur, is rooting for Janakiram.
In Jogupalaya ward, residents want better management of sewage, garbage and roads. They are also giving priority to corporator’s accessiblity. These factors may prove costly for incumbent M Goutham Kumar of the BJP.
Having poached a former Congress corporator, BJP can hope to give a good fight in Vannarpet ward. This ward was represented by Vijiyan last time and Congress was criticised for being a mute spectator during the demolition of over 1,000 slum houses in Ejipura two years ago.
These families were forcefully evicted from Ejipura EWS (Economically Weaker Section) quarters to build a mall and a new quarters there.
Many families managed to get cheap accommodation elsewhere a few days after the demolition. But there are many who continue to stay on the footpath there as they cannot afford houses.
Shanthinagar had become a BJP fort in 2003 after S Raghu won the assembly election. However, after reservation was announced in 2008, N A Haris won in the 2010 assembly election and converted it into a Congress fort by winning four wards (Agaram, Vannarpet, Neelasandra and Shanthi Nagar).
JD (S) has little scope in these wards. The candidates who wish to woo the voters will have to address their main concern of flooding in many wards and other basic infrastructure issues.
ward by ward: the major party candidates and the problems voters think their representative needs to address