So we have it finally. No Deve Gowda from Bangalore North, no Narendra Modi from Bangalore South. Rarely have the city’s three urban seats kindled such suspense and speculation ahead of a Lok Sabha election. Especially Bangalore South, where tradition and technology cohabitate. This seat, which was held by the late Ananth Kumar since 1996, is a BJP stronghold—even Nandan Nilekani couldn’t swing it for the Congress five years ago. A decade ago, India’s budget airline pioneer Capt Gopinath too had tried his luck as an Independent and failed. However, with Kumar’s passing in November, there’s been a bit of a dilly-dallying by the BJP. First, his wife Tejaswini was a frontrunner for the seat. The party, even while it announced candidates for the bulk of Karnataka’s 28 seats, kept everyone guessing about Bangalore South—amid rumours that Modi would contest. Finally, with hours to go for nominations to close, it picked a young face, 28-year-old Tejasvi Surya (in pic) as candidate.
The Congress has zeroed in on AICC veteran B.K. Hariprasad, who had lost to Ananth Kumar 20 years ago. Hariprasad agrees the constituency has harboured an anti-Congress sentiment since the Janata days. “But as of now, the BJP doesn’t have much to show,” Hariprasad tells Outlook as he pads up for the contest. “Bangalore is now a city of opportunities and the BJP can’t take the credit for all this.” On the contrary, he claims, demonetisation hit Bangalore’s local economy.
But all this might be bravado—political analyst A. Narayana reckons the BJP’s grip over Bangalore South is as strong as its hold over the coastal districts.
In Bangalore North, the suspense ended with a novel twist. Here, Union minister Sadananda Gowda, the sitting MP, was re-nominated by the BJP. And in the hard bargaining over seats between the Congress and the JD(S), the Grand Old Party had apportioned Bangalore North to its partner.
Thus began the Deve Gowda rumours. But not only did the former PM settle for Tumkur instead, one day before the deadline the JD(S) too gave up its claim on the seat and handed it back to the Congress! Now, Karnataka minister Krishna Byre Gowda do the honours. As for Bangalore Central, it’s a repeat of 2014—sitting BJP MP P.C. Mohan will face the Congress’s Rizwan Arshad once again. Yet, there’s some stardust: actor Prakash Raj, a strident critic of the BJP, is in the fray as an Independent candidate.