If street talk is anything to go by, then the ruling BJP and a resurgent Congress may end up sharing roughly equally the 28 Karnataka assembly seats one finds in the state capital Bengaluru.
Most voters and analysts seem to feel that notwithstanding a major public roadshow by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP may lose a few seats and the Congress could gain a few seats in the Wednesday electoral battle.
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One is that that the anti-incumbency factors seem to be working. Also, who will win and who will lose depends on the candidates picked by the two main parties battling it out.
Bengaluru, India’s IT capital, registered a 57 per cent voter turnout in 2018, less than the 62.03 per cent seen in 2013. Roadshows and a few other factors may provoke urban voters to vote in larger numbers this time.
If that happens, the Bengaluru results can be different when compared to the previous elections.
The BJP won 12 seats in 2013 but the tally slipped to 11 five years later. Later, three Congress and 1 JD-S MLAs from Bengaluru joined the BJP.
The BJP’s mission is a target of 150 overall in the states, and for this it must win more seats in the capital. Its leaders say it aims to win more than 20 of the 28 seats in Bengaluru.
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That’s why national leaders from both parties – including Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi — focussed on Bengaluru for more road shows.
Their events attracted thousands of people from almost all the constituencies.
On April 29, Modi’s first roadshow was held in nine constituencies of Bangalore North. On May 6, he targeted 13 constituencies of South and Central districts. On May 7, he took part in a 6.5 km road show.
Rahul Gandhi attended several rallies while Priyanka Gandhi took part in five roadshows.
The Federal found that residents suffer from several issues including lack of drinking water facilities in several areas; bad management of roads, flooding in many places, rising petroleum prices and unemployment.
Some individual leaders including ST Somashekhar (Yeshwanthpur constituency), G Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout) and Byrathi Basavaraju (Krishnarajapura), who all joined the BJP from Congress, are strong candidates, even if they contest as independents.
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Congress candidates including Byrathi Suresh (Hebbal), Ramalinga Reddy (BTM Layout) and Soumya Reddy (Jayanagar) are also powerful candidates.
Due to anti-incumbency, BJP candidates like Minister R Ashok in Padmanabhanagar and Manjula Limbavali (sitting MLA Aravind Limbavali’s wife) will face challenges from Congress candidates.
In Limbavali, mass anger stemming from bad management of flood-affected areas in an area which is a hub of IT giants forced the BJP to deny Aravind Limbavali the ticket.
In Rajarajeshwarinagar, Minister Muniratna Naidu is facing a challenge from Kusuma H, the wife of the late DK Ravi, a former IAS officer, whose suicide became controversial. She is backed by the Congress and her campaign has proved to be effective.
While Bengaluru falls in the Vokkaliga heartland, other communities including Muslims, Kurubas and Brahmins also have their share in the voters. Even the Marwari community and North Indians are important in the Assembly election.
Both BJP and Congress leaders and candidates have held several meetings to woo them. They have held several rounds of meetings with residents of various middle and upper middle-class apartment complexes too.