BENGALURU: As the two Vokkaliga heavyweights — DV Sadananda Gowda and Krishna Byre Gowda — take the stage in Bangalore North, it is their womenfolk who are out in the heat and dust, making inroads into this large constituency, and meeting people with folded hands and their best smiles.
Union Statistics and Planning Minister Sadananda Gowda has fought many an election, but for the first time, wife Datty is actively campaigning for him. As the sitting MP started out in Mahalakshmi Layout and Nandini Layout on Monday, Datty toured the nearby houses, talking to women in shudh Kannada and telling them about the achievements of the Modi government. Being early risers, they set out around 5.30am after a quick glass of milk, meeting people at a park. Later, they campaign separately, talking to voters in apartment complexes, markets, at street corners and kattes.
Asked how he feels about his wife campaigning, Sadananda Gowda smiles, “I sometimes feel jealous that she might become more popular than me.’’ And on how it feels to talk all day long, “It isn’t stressful because there is nothing new that I say, it is only about PM Modi’s achievements.’’In 2014, Gowda had benefited from the Modi wave, polling 7,18,326 votes, over 2 lakh votes more than his nearest rival C Narayana Swamy of the Congress, who got 4,88,562 votes.
Taking mama’s help
A little distance away in Hebbal, Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda’s mother Savitramma (69) is out campaigning too, but she restricts herself to relatives, friends and acquaintances. Savitramma had also campaigned for Krishna’s father Byre Gowda, who was cabinet minister in the JH Patel (Janata Party) ministry.
Krishna, whose day ends rather late, starts his campaign by about 9am. “Soon, I will start by 6.30am,’’ he says. But his mother, wife Meenakshi and sisters Mangala and Manjula set out at 7am, heading in different directions and meeting small groups of mostly elderly citizens, women and children whom his supporters have collected in apartment complexes and parks.
Their narrative, in sharp contrast to Sadananda Gowda’s, is about the ills of the Modi government and what Rahul Gandhi will do. “I have already covered four assembly seats, it is easy campaigning for Krishna because people know him,’’ said Manjula. Meenakshi had campaigned for him in 2009 too, when he had contested against late HN Ananth Kumar in Bangalore South, and lost.
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Bangalore North is spread across the urban segments of Malleswaram (BJP), Yeshwanthpur (INC), Byatarayanapura (INC), Hebbal (INC), Mahalakshmi Layout (JD-S) and Pulakeshinagar (INC) to Dasarahalli (JD-S) and KR Puram (INC), which have a large semi-urban and rural component. It has all the ingredients necessary for an intense duel.
Political analyst Prof Kiran Gajanur said, “Bangalore North is facing a huge water problem as more than half the constituency depends on tankers. In the last election, Sadananda Gowda promised to solve this problem but failed. There are over 6 lakh Vokkaligas here. I don’t see any Modi wave here as in 2014.”
If this is the case, Sadananda Gowda may have to bank on his own achievements, especially as Krishna Byre Gowda is a known quantity here. Byre Gowda was thrust into the contest as a surprise, after JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda dithered between Bangalore North and Tumkur, before settling for the latter, and leaving this prestigious seat for the Congress.
I have no worries: DV Sadananda Gowda
Does the coalition and vote transfer worry you, as together the Congress and JD(S) have 9 lakh plus votes?
I don’t worry about it. People love Modi,they will vote for me.
People allege that you haven’t been around for five years.
I have visited each constituency more than 100 times in five years. I have not had a single complaint from the people or from my party workers. It is the opponents who make these allegations.
People say you promised water last time, but haven’t delivered.
I got Cauvery water for them. It is for the state government and corporation to deliver it to the people. We took up the issue through the Supreme Court and mentioned the requirements.
People say that Vokkaliga guru Nirmalananda Swami told the people to support you.
How is your campaign going?
It feels good, people respond positively. We (my wife and I) campaign separately, I stop in parks and address people at marketplaces.
Vote transfer will happen,says Krishna Byre Gowda
Is the JD(S) campaigning with you?
Yes, JD(S) MLAs Gopalaiah and Manjunatha, and corporators are campaigning. They have shared the stage with me and many of them have worn the shalyas of both parties.
Will Deve Gowda and CM campaign for you?
They have assured me that they will campaign for me, and ensure the vote transfer happens. Look at the votes garnered by the three parties in the assembly polls: Congress and JD(S) together polled 9.65 lakh votes, while BJP got 5.47 lakh votes.
Does the Modi fan following trouble you?
Some groups give Modi an aura of invincibility on certain social media platforms, but the ground reality is different. The ordinary voter is cut off from social media.
Some say that Nirmalananda swami told people to vote for Sadananda Gowda...
I haven’t heard of this. As far as I know, swamiji is not a person to make such statements. BJP is good at cooking up stories. Is this one of their cooked-up stories?
On your opponent Sadananda Gowda?
He has been invisible here.What is the dipstick of a candidate’s success, what has he done? You cannot cover failure with emotional issues.