It is early morning and Lalbagh is full of joggers and walkers, many of them from Basavanagudi, V.V. Puram, Jayanagar and surrounding areas.
The walkers' stride and the joggers' slow-trot are interrupted by a stocky middle-aged man, who after greeting them with folded hands, seeks their vote.
Many respond positively and remark that but for him, elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would not have been held.
The man, P.R. Ramesh, smiles and says self-deprecatingly that he just did his duty. The elections should have been held years ago and he was only trying to see that Constitutional provisions were not violated.
Followed by a small band of adoring supporters and partymen, Mr. Ramesh exits from Lalbagh and begins door-to-door campaigning. Wherever he goes, people recognise him and promise him votes.
Spending some time with some of the educated members of his constituency, Mr. Ramesh reminds them that the last time civic elections were held in Bangalore was in 2001.
The H.D. Kumaraswamy Government decided to expand the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) by forming the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and the number of seats increased from 100 to 147. When there was no sign of the Government holding elections, Mr. Ramesh says he had no other go but to file the first public interest litigation (PIL) petition asking for the elections to be held expeditiously.
Since then, for almost four years, he has been singlehandedly following the cases in the High Court and the Supreme Court. He claims to have spent nearly Rs. 15 lakh from his pocket on legal expenses. He won his final battle early this month when the Supreme Court refused to stay the election process any further.
After that battle, Mr. Ramesh is now facing the poll battle from the V.V. Puram Ward. He has been going on Padayatra every day to meet the voters and elicit their support. He says he has been in touch with his voters even though for four years there has been no corporator to represent his ward. His promise to the voters is simple: “I will do my best to keep the ward clean so that it becomes a model of greenery and neatness.”
Though Mr. Ramesh has been representing the ward for years, there are problems. Traffic, for one, has increased manifold and almost all the voters complain of stress levels going up because of constant honking and haphazard parking, particularly as there is no paid parking facility in the area. Garbage collection is another bugbear. The growing commercialisation of the locality has eroded the tranquillity of the locality which is now bustling with fast food joints, dosa camps, bakeries and roadside eateries.