Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency in Bangalore may boast having in its midst the Vidhana Soudha and the Raj Bhavan, both celebrated locations that attract a steady stream of VIP convoys. But barely a kilometre or two away, near the iconic Russell Market in the heart of the constituency, common people struggle to negotiate their two-wheelers on the slushy narrow lanes, flanked by mounds of freshly removed silt and garbage.

The Charminar Mosque Road, leading out of Russell Market, turns a cesspool every time it rains. This is because the storm water drain that cuts across the road is choked with garbage and offal.

Welcome to Shivajinagar, whose eateries draw people from across the city and whose meat shops stock hotel kitchens across the city. The bustling area draws thousands to Bowring Hospital, St. Mary’s Basilica, the bus terminus and to the well-stocked retail shops.

“But people here are fed up. The roads are perpetually congested, drains are choked. There is water scarcity. Nobody bothers about garbage,” grumbled Shahmeer Chaudhary (67), who has seen several families here migrate.

Those who have remained are cynical. For them, the coming Assembly elections are a non-event. “Whoever is elected, it doesn’t matter,” said Mozammil, who runs a shoe shop here.

Former Minister and Congress candidate R. Roshan Baig, seeking re-election here, is unfazed. According to him, not only has the population grown but even houses and shops have been adding more floors, putting pressure on civic infrastructure. Modernisation of the obsolete underground drainage system is under way in many areas, he said, adding that people also should do their bit for the area’s upkeep.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nirmal Surana, who has lost to Mr. Baig previously, contends that most parts of the constituency like Bharathinagar, Sampangiramnagar and Ramaswamy Palya wards, which form part of the city’s old areas, also face a host of civic problem though Vasanthnagar ward may be relatively better off. “My main fight this time will be with JD (S) candidate Abbas Ali Bohra and not Mr. Baig.”

Though the Muslim vote has traditionally been considered crucial here, its share is gradually declining with each passing election. At present, Muslims may account for about 30 per cent of the estimated 1.8 lakh eligible voters, and Christians, 7 per cent.

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