K.V. Subramanya

BJP invokes Jalappa’s name to seek votes for its candidate

R.L. Jalappa’s writ runs large in Doddaballapur

Many Congress leaders have joined the BJP

CHICKBALLAPUR: “History reveals that whenever there has been a battle between the ‘guru’ and ‘sishya,’ it is the ‘sishya’ who emerged victorious,” remarked J. Narasimha Swamy, BJP candidate from the Doddaballapur Assembly Constituency in Bangalore Rural district, at an election rally on Monday.

Indeed, the byelections to the Assembly from Doddaballapur has turned out to be a straight contest between Mr. Swamy and his mentor R.G. Venkatachalaiah of the Congress, although B. Mune Gowda of Janata Dal (Secular) is in the fray.

For the past three decades, the politics of Doddaballapur has been dominated by Mr. Swamy’s father and the veteran Congress MP R.L. Jalappa. Mr. Venkatachalaiah, a staunch loyalist of Mr. Jalappa since 1978, had been “father’s disciple and son’s mentor.”

A glance at the eight elections held to the Assembly from Doddaballapur since 1983 reveals that Mr. Jalappa’s writ runs large in this constituency. Of the eight elections, Mr. Jalappa has won four times, his son twice and Mr. Venkatachalaiah once in the 1996 byelection.

Thus, Mr. Swamy is heavily depending on his father’s clout to make it to the Assembly for the third time in a row. The BJP leaders and workers have been appealing to voters: “Cast your votes in favour Mr. Jalappa’s son Narasimha Swamy.”

Even Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa invoked Mr. Jalappa’s name while seeking votes for the party candidate at an election rally in Doddaballapur on Monday.

The BJP camp is confident that its candidate will win as the entire “Jalappa network” (what was hitherto the Congress network) is working for Mr. Swamy success. Besides, the BJP camp is sure that Mr. Swamy would also get the traditional BJP votes estimated to be around 15,000.

Mr. Venkatachalaiah (75), who is said to have managed all elections contested by Mr. Jalappa and his son in the past, is banking heavily on his “clean image” and the votes of the minority communities. He is trying to influence the voters by emphasising that this would be his last election. “Please support me to save my honour as well as that of the Congress,” has been his common refrain.

But the main worry of Mr. Venkatachalaiah is that the Congress is a divided house in the constituency as majority of the leaders and workers have switched over to the BJP along with Mr. Swamy.

Similarly, the Janata Dal (Secular) base has also been dented with many of its prominent leaders, including the former MLA Gangtiganahalli Krishnappa and the former Minister C. Chennigappa, defecting to the BJP.

Even though caste factor had hardly played any role in the past elections in Doddaballapur, the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular) are trying to woo different caste groups. The BJP leaders have addressed separate meetings of the Kuruba, Savitha samaja and Balija communities. Similarly, the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda addressed a meeting of the miniscule Arya Vysya community.

Mr. Mune Gowda, who hails from the neighbouring Devanahalli, belongs to the dominant Vokkaliga community, which has around 30,000 voters in the constituency. He is also hoping that the Muslim voters would support him. On the other, Mr. Swamy and Mr. Venkatachalaiah belong to the Idiga and Brahmin communities respectively that have a little presence in the constituency.