Bangalore Central: Will Congress unseat the BJP?https://indianexpress.com/elections/karnataka-elections-bangalore-central-will-congress-unseat-the-bjp-5672098/

Bangalore Central: Will Congress unseat the BJP?

The popular belief is that the battle for the heart of Bangalore Central this Lok Sabha elections, is a three-corner contest with multilingual actor Prakash Raj jumping into the fray as an independent candidate.

Bangalore central, lok sabha elections, kushboo, rizwan arshad
Congress leader Kushboo during a road show in Bangalore Central. Express Photo by Manoj Kumar R

Since its inception in 2009, Bangalore Central parliament constituency has remained with the BJP. The saffron party candidate PC Mohan is looking for a third consecutive win from the seat, which will go to polls in phase two of Lok Sabha elections on April 18.

In 2014 general elections, thanks to “Modi wave”, Mohan’s victory margin doubled against his Congress rival Rizwan Arshad. He won with a margin of more than 1,37,500 in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, from the margin of 35,000 extra votes that he garnered against Congress candidate H.T. Sangliana in 2009. In this election, Mohan aspires to score a hat-trick by seeking votes in the name of Narendra Modi.

However, the Congress, which holds five of the eight assembly segments of the Bangalore Central parliament constituency, is confident of overthrowing the BJP from the seat. “This time people have grown tired of Modi’s lies. We will answer for all the lies that Modi had said in the last five years between April 11 and May 23,” Congress MLA N. A. Haris of Shanti Nagar told Indianexpress.com.

“BJP leaders promised to build Ram Mandir in the last election. And again, they have made the same promise this election. That only means that they just want to do politics with Ram Mandir. You decide whether you need a party and government like that,” he added addressing a street corner meeting.

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Also Read: Congress leader Kushboo slaps youth during roadshow in Bengaluru

On Wednesday, Haris arrived in Gowthampura with his entourage to see the preparations for the roadshow, whose star attraction was actor-politician Kushboo, a glamourous filmstar who held sway in Tamil and Telugu films. She was there to appeal to the Tamil households, who form a sizeable chunk of voters in Gowthampura.

Addressing the crowd that has gathered around her convoy, Kushboo highlighted the failures of Modi government and asked: “Please raise your hands if you have your relatives living in Tamil Nadu?” After a brief pause to allow the onlookers to give her a visible response, she continued, “As he (Modi) ever bothered to visit Tamil Nadu when there were no elections. People of Tamil Nadu suffered from heavy rains, floods, cyclones. Our Tamil farmers sat in protest in Delhi under scorching heat, did Modi even care to meet them?”

Finally, she asked people to vote for the Congress candidate Rizwan Arshad, should they wish to see her again. “Only, if you vote for Rizwan Arshad and make him win, will I be able to come back here to congratulate him and thank you,” she said. The crowd responded with cheers.

Bangalore Central – Reality Check

The popular belief is that the battle for the heart of Bangalore is a three-corner contest with multilingual actor Prakash Raj jumping into the fray as an independent candidate. However, the ground reality may be very different. Prakash’s recent road show, accompanied by an entourage of youngsters on bikes, across Shanti Nagar segment put a smile on the faces of people. But, the question is will all those smiles turn into votes?

Prakash Raj, Independent candidate from Bangalore Central, during a campaign trail. Express Photo by Manoj Kumar R.

“I will not vote for Prakash Raj,” said Simion, who was just greeted by Prakash Raj. The actor-turned-politician even asked the well-being of Simion’s wife and child, who had accompanied the latter on his two-wheeler motorbike. “I want to support someone who has really worked hard for years in the politics.”

A young Tamilian staffer at the Airforce Command Hospital on Old Airport Road, was also charmed by the sight of Prakash Raj waving at him. But, when he was asked whether he will vote for him, he couldn’t give a straight answer. “I have my vote in Tamil Nadu. But, Prakash Raj is contesting elections here,” he added.

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There are, however, some voters like watch mechanic C Kumaran and roadside vegetable vendor Peruma, who were enthusiastic to vote for Prakash Raj, thanks to his versatile onscreen performances.

Modi fans are also very visible. “I am voting for Modi,” said a woman resident of an upscale locality in Ulsoor, in her early 40s. She was standing outside her house to see the roadshow led by actor Prakash Raj. “I like him as an actor but I’m not ready to accept him as a political leader,” she added. She noted that the previous day Darshan had come near her doorstep seeking support for PC Mohan. A star’s presence in the rally clearly made no difference to her as she was already a big fan of Modi.

But some people were more interested in talking about rising household expenses rather than the achievements or failures of Modi. “A medicine that’s used to treat a member of my family used to cost Rs 125. But, now the same tablet costs Rs 180,” says Kaikaraja, 64, a resident of Gowthampura.

BJP allegations of minority appeasement also have some takers. Muniraju, also a Gowthampura resident, said he switched his vote to BJP from Congress as he was unhappy with the Congress efforts to appease minorities. “Our MLA goes to church and mosque but he never visited our temple,” he claims.

“Compared to others, the Modi government is less corrupt,” says Muniraju, 49, a textile employee.

Charles, another resident of Gowthampura, claimed that he was a supporter of the BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was at the helm of the party. “I was born in this land. I am a Hindu Dalit and later converted to Christianity. This is my country too and nobody has the right to tell me what to say and what to eat,” says Charles.

In the same locality as Muniraju and Charles, lives Vasanta, who ekes out a living by working as a private caregiver. She struggles to make ends meet with her husband, a retired BTS (now BMTC) driver, who now drives an autorickshaw for a living. The couple, who hold BPL cards, voted for the BJP in 2014 inspired by the promises of ‘Achhe din’ made by the party.

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“My LPG subsidy is not getting credited to my bank account,” says a worried Vasanta. Now, this election she has her hopes on the promises of the Congress. “This time we are thinking about voting for the Congress.”

It is a mixed bag in Bangalore Central.

Follow the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 real-time on IndianExpress.com/elections. Check the Lok Sabha election schedule, your Lok Sabha constituency details as well as where Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are campaigning in the Lok Sabha Election. On Twitter, follow @Decision2019 for the latest news and analysis.