Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency: Debutant doctor faces hattrick-record MP in Gabbar Singh’s lair 

Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha seat, a politically complex region with famous landmarks, faces tough competition in upcoming elections between incumbent MP D.K. Suresh and noted cardiologist C.N. Manjunath.

Updated - April 16, 2024 11:08 am IST

Published - April 15, 2024 10:20 pm IST - BENGALURU

Dr. C.N. Manjunath, former director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Bengaluru.

Dr. C.N. Manjunath, former director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha seat, characterised by the rocky areas of Ramanagara where the famous Bollywood classic Sholay was shot, comprises eight Assembly segments spread over three districts of Ramanagara, Bengaluru Urban, and Tumakuru.

A politically complex region, its comprises agrarian zones in Kunigal, Channapatna, Ramanagara, Magadi and Kanakapura taluks as well as IT corridor of Electronics City in Bengaluru. The backward Magadi taluk lies here and so does the industrial township in Bidadi with its Toyota unit. There are hutments in villages and posh apartments in Rajarajeshwarinagar of Bengaluru city.  

This constituency had become a bastion of Congress as incumbent MP D.K. Suresh, brother of Deputy Chief Minister and KPCC president D. K. Shivakumar, had achieved a hattrick. However, it has now attracted attention as noted cardiologist C.N. Manjunath is making his political debut by taking on the powerful “D.K. brothers.”  

Doctor’s entry

Dr. Manjunath, who retired this year as the head of the government-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, has been popular as he turned the government hospital into one of the largest heart care centres in South East Asia. 

Mr. Suresh is a powerful leader and a key strategist of this region. He has maintained constant touch with most of the villages through his network of party leaders and has some or the other development works to his credit. He also played a proactive role during COVID days, remember locals. He was the lone MP from Congress to get elected amidst a strong “Modi wave” in 2019. Of the eight Assembly segments coming under the seat, five are held by the Congress. 

In this context, things should have been easier for him as his brother, the Vokkaliga face of the Congress, is the deputy Chief Minister. But Mr. Suresh is facing a tough competition for the first time from debutant Dr. Manjunath. 

This is due to various reasons including forging of an alliance between the BJP and JD (S) which has strengthened the Opposition. The alliance leaders claim that the combination of votes would outnumber the Congress in most constituencies. 

Also, the two Assembly segments, Rajarajeshwarinagar and Bengaluru South, located in Bengaluru city and represented by the BJP MLAs, have turned out to be tricky for Congress due to BJP’s strong network. These two Assembly segments, along with Channapatna, held by the JD(S), together account for over 50% of the total votes in the seat.

D.K. Suresh of the Congress, who is the Congress candidate from the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency.

D.K. Suresh of the Congress, who is the Congress candidate from the Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency. | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

Congress’s pitch

The ruling Congress is heavily banking on its five “guarantee” schemes of free bus travel for women, an incentive of ₹ 2,000 per month to women, free rice and power supply schemes as well as unemployment dole. 

They hope that women would stand with them as they are major beneficiaries of the schemes. The Congress is also trying to create awareness on its “My tax – My right” campaign in which it has accused the Centre of showing step-motherly attitude towards Karnataka in devolution of central taxes, grants and drought assistance. In fact it was Mr. Suresh, who had aggressively raised this issue in the Lok Sabha. 

While the BJP is countering this with the narrative that the guarantee schemes are only “temporary” and would not help in the long run, they are heavily dependent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image. The JD (S), meanwhile, is trying to push the point that their leader H.D. Kumaraswamy is the “architect of Ramanagara” as it was carved out as a district during his tenure as Chief Minister. 

This constituency is being watched keenly as any upset here may provide a handle to detractors of Mr. Shivakumar to argue against him staking a claim to Chief Minister’s post at a later date. BJP and JD (S), which lost miserably in the 2023 Assembly polls, are hoping for a setback for the Congress here as they think it would trigger a political tussle within the Congress, leading to political instability.

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