BENGALURU: In less than one-and-a-half years, Shivajinagar assembly constituency will go to polls for the third time. There are bustling businesses, both big and small, on one hand; and on the other, quiet residential localities, both posh and poor, in this constituency that suffers from issues that most of urban Bengaluru does — waste management, infrastructure, health and sanitation and traffic.
Pushed into bypolls after Roshan Baig’s disqualification, Shivajinagar has consistently given Congress the edge in at least the last six elections, parliamentary or assembly, except for Lok Sabha polls 2009. It’s a three-way fight for the Shivajinagar seat with a debutant, a third-time contestant and a corporator-turned-MLA aspirant, vying to emerge victorious.
With its considerable minority population, Shivajinagar has always been perceived as the most communal of all seats in Bengaluru. Despite claiming otherwise, parties have always weighed in communities of its candidates before issuing tickets.
With the BJP fielding three-time corporator and local resident M Saravana as its candidate- with a clear intent of wooing non-minority voters, debutant Tanveer Ahmed of the JDS and Congress’ Rizwan Arshad — who has contested as an MP candidate twice from the constituency unsuccessfully- have much to worry about splitting of votes. All three candidates insist that polarisation is a non-factor in the seat. In fact, Shivajinagar has a lot to worry about from an increasingly risky drug menace, to crumbling infrastructure even in government schools.
While it accommodated 14 disqualified legislators of the Congress and JDS, the BJP turned down former MLA of Shivajinagar Roshan Baig, but that might not be the end of story. “Baig is a friend and all his supporters are now seeking votes for me,” confessed M Saravana, conveying that he expects a chunk of minority votes too in addition to BJP’s traditional vote bank.
While the JDS, with its candidate, is pushing the ‘alternate to national parties’ card, the Congress is sitting tight, hoping the JDS candidate won’t take away a considerable share of the common voter target. With M Saravana, the BJP is playing the ‘local, insider’ sentiment, while Congress looks to highlight the ‘familiarity’ card with Rizwan Arshad, and JDS pushing the ‘fresh blood’ concept with Tanveer Ahmed.