Change on ground could throw up challenges for BJP, Congress

In areas like Hebbal, Byatarayanapura and even pockets of Yeshwanthpur, the water crisis has become the talking point.
L-R: Flags of BJP and Congress parties.
L-R: Flags of BJP and Congress parties. (File Photos | PTI)

BENGALURU: It’s going to be a tough battle between the Congress and BJP in Bangalore North, which is not just the largest constituency of Karnataka, but also one of the five largest constituencies in the country, with 32,14,496 voters.

Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje of the BJP is taking on Congress’s MV Rajeev Gowda, chairperson of the Centre for Public Policy at IIMB, and chairman of the Congress Research Department. Shobha will contest in place of incumbent MP DV Sadananda Gowda, who had beaten Krishna Byre Gowda in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by a margin of 1,47,518 votes.

The competition between the two Vokkaliga candidates is getting interesting, with voters not looking only at the candidate’s caste, but many other factors too. In areas like Hebbal, Byatarayanapura and even pockets of Yeshwanthpur, the water crisis has become the talking point.

Elections in Bangalore North were first held in 1951, and Keshav Murthy was elected MP on a Congress ticket. Congress won 12 times from this constituency, BJP four times and JDS once in 1996.

However, this time, it will be tough for BJP in areas where Congress leaders have been elected in the assembly segments in 2023, like Hebbal (Byrathi Suresh), Pulakeshinagar (AC Srinivasa) and Byatarayanapura (Krishna Byre Gowda). In KR Puram, though Byrathi Basavaraj won on a BJP ticket, Congress is trying to get him on their side as his cousin, Byrathi Suresh, is a minister.

In case of Dasarahalli, the Congress seems confident that it can gain JDS votes after the party joined hands with the BJP, and ex-MLA Manjunath joined the Congress. But BJP workers are showing their optimism on the ground with the support of S Muniraju.

The BJP is also confident of holding core areas of Bengaluru -- Malleswaram and Mahalakshmi Layout -- which has always been its strength. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, of 28,49,250 voters, only 15,60,324 people voted, which is 54.76 per cent. This time, the two parties are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a large voter turnout. With the Congress looking to woo voters from apartments, which have seen a boom in the constituency, the BJP is banking on the Modi factor.

Shobha, though termed an ‘outsider’, beat the ‘Go Back, Shobha’ campaign in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, and is now trying to draw voters in the name of PM Modi.

Some political analysts and voters have noted that this election has become a presidential type of poll, where the candidate’s popularity is secondary. In 2009, BJP’s DB Chandregowda won from Bangalore North, though he was from Chikkamagaluru. In 2014 and 2019, BJP’s DV Sadananda Gowda, from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, contested and won. Shobha is also from Udupi- Chikkamagaluru.

Shobha (57) who is Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, is confident of getting more votes in Yeshwanthpur and Kengeri for the work she did when she was minister in BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet.

During the 2023 assembly polls, Rajeev Gowda (60) did groundwork for the Congress to woo apartment associations. He also played a role in preparing Congress manifestos. The battle here is between the BJP as a party against Rajeev Gowda as a candidate.

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