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Wanted: a people-friendly MLA

Afshan Yasmeen
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This constituency is the gateway to the heart of Bangalore from Mysore. In other words, it’s an area with incessant traffic. Motoring out of Rajajinagar through Okalipuram during peak hours is a torture. Although the Okalipuram grade separator has helped somewhat, the narrow passage near Khodays’ Circle and the second gate of the City Railway Station is a major bottleneck.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and Indian Railways had proposed widening the road and constructing a signal-free stretch to clear this block, but the proposal remains only on paper.

Big battle

This constituency, which witnessed a straight fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in the previous elections, is all set to witness a no-holds barred battle this time between friend-turned-foes — incumbent Minister S. Suresh Kumar and his erstwhile Cabinet colleague Shobha Karandlaje from the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP). S.T. Anand is contesting on Janata Dal (Secular) ticket.

S. Babu, who runs a battery repair shop in Shivanagar, alleged that Mr. Suresh Kumar was not accessible to the residents. “His generosity is reserved only for his party workers. We have to cross various barriers, such as workers and family, to meet him in person. We want a leader who can understand our problems and help us during crises,” he said.

But, Mr. Suresh Kumar’s campaign team brushes aside allegations of inaccessibility by showcasing his Janaspandana programmes. “People know our leader’s work and we are confident they will re-elect him,” said an aide.

Ms. Karandlaje, who shifted base from Yeshwantpur (her former constituency), is using her charm to attract voters with issues that matter the most. “Water shortage is a big problem here. Although the area MLA was the BWSSB Minister, he has done nothing to solve the problem. Most do not have ration cards and interior roads have not been asphalted for years. People want a performing representative and the KJP is the only choice,” she said.

A cosmopolitan residential locality, Rajajinagar has witnessed a boom in commercial activities in recent years. Apart from a growing business for owners of wedding halls, this constituency is home to several educational institutions.

Sandwiched between the dense residential pockets of Basaveshwaranagar, Malleswaram, Mahalakshmi Layout, Vijayanagar and Govindrajnagar, Rajajinagar contains within it a well-known industrial estate.

Need for reservoir

G. Padmavathi, three-time former councillor, said water supply was a perennial problem in the constituency despite Mr. Suresh Kumar having the portfolio of Minister for Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). “What Rajajinagar needs is a ground-level reservoir (GLR) to ensure adequate storage and proper distribution. None has realised this,” she said.

Ms. Padmavathi, who had filed nomination papers as a Congress rebel, withdrew it to accommodate the State Congress Women’s Cell chief Manjula Naidu. Congress sources said Ms. Padmavathi should have been given an opportunity to contest as she had given a stiff fight to Mr. Suresh Kumar and had secured 35,000 votes in the 2008 elections.

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