How would you picture a constituency that houses a politically active former Prime Minister and his clan; the State’s high-profile Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister; besides an incumbent Mayor and a former First Citizen of the city? This is also where celebrated Kannada wordsmiths G.S. Shivarudrappa and K.S. Nisar Ahmed live quietly.
A stellar presence is one thing; but perish any grand visions of Padmanabhanagar that it would evoke.
This Assembly constituency of over two lakh voters is just one election old in its current name: just before the 2008 polls, southwest Bangalore’s booming borough was culled out of the erstwhile Uttarahalli sprawl. The revamped poll map is medley of eight wards of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and good and bad bites of Jayanagar, the landmark Banashankari Temple ward, Banashankari II, III stages and the former villages Kadirenahalli, Hosakerehalli and Chikkalasandra.
Will Padmanabhanagar’s (and erstwhile Uttarahalli’s three-time) MLA, R. Ashok, who has been Deputy Chief Minister, Home and Transport Minister in the last five BJP-ruled years, pull off yet another victory right in the lion’s den?
Old-timers recall a residential history of at least 40 years to Padmanabhanagar and its extensions. Not unlike many recent civic pockets of Bangalore, the constituency encompasses many enclaves developed by housing societies for the upwardly rising middle class. Then there are scores of private layouts and apartment complexes that were quickly put up by land-holders; they hit pay dirt overnight in the real estate boom of the 1990s and the trend continues.
The roads in general are narrow, short and undulating and the private and commercial traffic levels have gone beyond the carrying capacity of the roads. The Kittur Rani Chennamma Circle (a.k.a. ‘Deve Gowda petrol pump circle’) and the arterial ring road are clogged with traffic jams in the mornings and evenings. “No one seems to care about easing the traffic mess, or stopping encroachments and illegal constructions,” says senior and long-time resident M.L. Lalithamma. With so many working people transiting or roosting here, ín her view, the area badly needs a government hospital.
Bad roads and a hundred speed-breakers apart, the former general physician who retired from NIMHANS says: “There are simply no lung spaces around here. I used to watch white cranes in the serene Chikkalasandra lake not far from our lane. [The lake] was allowed to die” and now apartments and houses have come up there. Dr. Lalithamma herself won a legal tug of war with civic authorities to save a herbal park-cum-temple (Devara gudda), barely a kilometre from the Chennamma Circle, from becoming yet another concrete shopping complex.