Home >Elections >Lok Sabha Elections 2019 >Congress trying hard to wrest Bengaluru from clutches of BJP in Lok Sabha polls
The BJP believes that caste will play a role only if JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda contests. (Mint)
The BJP believes that caste will play a role only if JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda contests. (Mint)

Congress trying hard to wrest Bengaluru from clutches of BJP in Lok Sabha polls

  • The Congress has not won a Lok Sabha seat in Bengaluru since C.K.Jaffar Sharieff won from the north constituency in 1999
  • Even caste that otherwise is not considered a very big factor in urban areas could be put to the test this time around, political leader and analysts say

Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces anti-incumbency in the three parliamentary seats of Bengaluru while problems for the Congress stems from within as the two national parties make an aggressive bid to take control over Karnataka’s ‘seat of power’ in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to be held in April.

The Congress has not won a Lok Sabha seat in Bengaluru since C.K.Jaffar Sharieff won from the north constituency in 1999. And if statements by its own partymen are anything to go by, the Congress could draw another blank this year.

“Our problems come mostly from within our own party," said a senior Congress leader, requesting not to be named.

The Congress is challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP at the centre but has been unable to quell dissent within its own ranks, denting its chances in several seats including Bengaluru.

The Congress, that won 15 out of the 28 assembly seats in Bengaluru, believes it has its best chance in decades. But assembly and parliamentary elections are fought on different issues and differs from region to region.

Though rural battles are being fought over the deepening agrarian distress, farm loan waivers and populist programmes, issues in urban centres like Bengaluru is likely to include topics like unemployment, corruption and even the controversial Rafale fighter aircraft deal that appears to have resonated with a section of the large middle class population.

Even caste that otherwise is not considered a very big factor in urban areas could be put to the test this time around, political leader and analysts say.

The BJP has roped in Tejasvini Ananth Kumar, the wife of late Ananth Kumar to take the latter’s place in Bengaluru south seat, that has a large Brahmin population.

The Congress also fielded tech honcho Nandan Nilekani, from the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB), community in 2014, that does not upset existing caste equations.

But several leaders belonging to other castes are attempting to break this cycle.

“An intellectual Vokkaliga is considered to be on par with a Brahmin candidate," the person cited above said, indicating how the Congress was contemplating a change in its strategy to approach a seat it last won in 1989.

The BJP believes that caste will play a role only if JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda contests.

“If Deve Gowda does decide to contest, Vokkaligas will consolidate in that seat. But so would Brahmins and Lingayats," a senior BJP leader said, requesting not to be named.

Caste equations, however, is not the biggest of the Congress’ worries.

Kumar won in all eight assembly constituencies, including four under the Congress, in Bengaluru South in 2014. D.V. Sadananda Gowda of the BJP won in all three assembly segments under the Congress in Bengaluru North parliamentary constituency while P.C.Mohan won in at least two of the four assembly seats under its main rival.

Rizwan Arshad was the only Congress candidate to win in two seats under his own party in the Bengaluru Central constituency that shows how the party legislators have seldom backed their own in a general election.

“Some leaders are not even attempting to enter the race fearing a backlash by disgruntled Congress legislators," said another state Congress leader, who requested not to be named.

Though the Congress remains hopeful of winning a seat in Bengaluru, its coalition partner has better chances if former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda does decide to contest from the Bengaluru North seat this time.

The approvals to controversial projects like the steel bridge, peripheral ring road and clearing other big ticket projects despite growing opposition from citizen groups is being viewed as JD(S) attempts to consolidate support in the north seat in anticipation of Gowda’s candidature. 

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