Bengaluru Rural: Election hinges on BJP-JDS alliance, Congress guarantees in Karnataka

Gowda’s son-in-law Dr CN Manjunath takes on DKS’ brother Suresh in this GoP bastion
With no rain, farmers of Bengaluru Rural like their counterparts elsewhere are largely dependent on borewells to irrigate their land
With no rain, farmers of Bengaluru Rural like their counterparts elsewhere are largely dependent on borewells to irrigate their land | Nagaraja Gadekal

RAMANAGARA/BENGALURU: Ever since the BJP announced Dr CN Manjunath as its candidate for Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, 51-year-old Meenakshi (name changed) from Kanakapura is in a dilemma. Coming from a family which has traditionally voted Congress, she is also keen to show her respect to Dr Manjunath by voting for him.

As former director of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, Dr Manjunath’s timely intervention a few years ago saved the life of her farmer husband. “We all believe Dr Manjunath is God. We had lost hope and if he was not there, I would have lost my husband six years ago,” said Meenakshi.

Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency, with 27.53 lakh voters, is a mix of urban and rural populace, comprising Bengaluru South and RR Nagar from Bengaluru Urban, Magadi, Channapattana, Ramanagara and Kanakapura from Ramanagara district, and Kunigal from Tumakuru district. Except Bengaluru Urban, other pockets are dominated by Congress and JDS voters. Interestingly, there is no visible election excitement.

The BJP-JDS alliance move to field Dr Manjunath is receiving mixed reactions. Syed Bashiruddin from Kalanagar ward in Channapattana, where a large number of toy makers reside, told The New Indian Express that Channapattana constituency alone has over 2.7 lakh voters.

“All these years, we were in favour of JDS candidate HD Kumaraswamy, who got close to Rs 1 lakh votes from this constituency alone in 2023. Our votes gave him victory. But now by joining hands with the BJP, he has hurt our sentiments. We are going to vote for DK Suresh and give him one lakh votes from here,” he said. There are over 2,700 voters in Kalanagar who are artisans.

Bengaluru Rural is a mix of urban and rural populace  | nagaraja gadekal
Bengaluru Rural is a mix of urban and rural populace | nagaraja gadekal

On the other side, many call Dr Manjunath ‘Dalada manushya’ (man from JDS). Nijalingappa from Doddamudigere in Magadi taluk says he wants Dr Manjunath to win. “He is our Deve Gowda’s son-in-law, what more reason do you need, he is Dalada manushya,” he added.

Women’s support

Meanwhile, the Congress, which is banking on its guarantee schemes, has got the support of many women in Magadi, Ramanagara and Channapattana who say the schemes have given them financial independence. However, men are none too happy. Hucchaiah from Magadi said he is voting for Manjunath because he doesn’t want Congress to win.

“Women have got financial assistance of Rs 2,000, free travel and other benefits. What is there for us? Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar has not given anything for us, why should I vote for them?” he asked.

Then there are some, especially women, who are yet to decide. Despite the guarantee schemes, they may not vote for Congress.

“Every government does good in a way. We vote as per our panchayat member’s recommendation. After all, if we need something, we go to the panchayat,” said Kempamma (name changed) from Chikkasulikere of Ramanagara.

But Devamma (name changed), from the neighbouring village wants the Congress candidate.

“We may get Rs 500 or Rs 1000 from other parties but Lord Shiva will not forgive me if I don’t vote for those who give me free rice and money, and because of whom I can eat peacefully,” she said.

At the outset, Kunigal seems to be in favour of Congress, while BJP has an edge in Bengaluru South and Rajarajeshwarinagar. Ravikumar, a civil engineer turned farmer from Ramanagara, said it may not be an easy win for Suresh this time.

“A section of people is in favour of Suresh for his work and because he is a local. At the same time, some want Manjunath to win. It is interesting this time,” he said.

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The New Indian Express