It’s Congress vs Modi in Bengaluru South
Both candidates have made Modi the central figure in their electoral campaign.
Both have made Prime Minister Narendra Modi the central figure in their electoral campaign: while Surya says voting Modi meant voting for a strong nation, Hariprasad is seeking to build sentiments against Modi. “My fight is against Modi and not the candidate,” Hariprasad told ET. Asked why he was not taking the name of his BJP’s rival, he says:“BJP candidates are nominees of Modi. I want to talk to my voters about the disaster Modi has caused to this nation and why they should not vote for him.”
The Bengaluru South constituency - a melting pot of traditional Old Bengaluru and the modern IT and start-up hub - which has been the BJP bastion for the last 28 years, witnessed a few dramatic turns following the death of former union minister Ananth Kumar last November. Kumar was a six time MP of Bengaluru South and had established a strong hold over his constituency. His untimely death six months before the Lok Sabha polls created a leadership vacuum for the BJP in Bengaluru.
Soon, the Karnataka BJP projected Kumar’s wife Tejaswini, who runs a nonprofit, as the BJP candidate for Bengaluru South. But in a sudden turn of events, the party leadership announced Surya’s name on the last day of filing nomination. It came as a surprise to many, and caused confusion for sometime in the party.
The Congress party nominating Hariprasad too was no less a surprise as there were rumours of him seeking a ticket from Bengaluru Central or from his native Coastal Karnataka. It was said that Hariprasad was reluctant to contest from Bengaluru South, a constituency that has been a strong forte of the BJP since 1991. In fact, fighting elections in Bengaluru South is not new to Hariprasad. He had contested against Ananth Kumar in 1999 and lost by 70,000 votes.
In recent years, some of the prominent Congress names preferred to keep away from Bengaluru South, not wishing to waste their money and energy in a seat deeply entrenched by Kumar. In fact, in the six elections that Kumar contested, the Congress fielded a new face each time. Infosys co-founder and the architect of Aadhaar Nandan Nilekani too tried his luck in the last election.
No Congress politician nurtured the constituency since 1989, the last time it won.B K Hariprasad is the only politician who is trying his luck for a second time.
Bengaluru South has large numbers of Vokkaligas, and 10 years ago, Congress's Krishna Byre Gowda gave a very impressive fight to Kumar. Except for once in 1991, the BJP always fielded a Brahmin, and has continued with the tradition even after Kumar's death.
Bengaluru South, which has about 19 lakh voters, comprises eight Assembly seats. The BJP holds five of them: Basavanagudi, Chikkapete, Govindarajanagar, Padmanabhanagar and Bommanahalli. Out of about 60 municipal (BBMP) wards in the constituency, the party has 42 corporators. The clout is because of sustained nurturing of the South seat by the party since 1996, when Ananthkumar first won. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he won by a margin of about 2.3 lakh votes.