Bengaluru North Lok Sabha constituency: BJP banks on ‘Modi factor’ while Congress hopes to draw from ‘clean image and intellectual calibre’ of its candidate

The assembly seat tally is favourable to the BJP. Of the eight Assembly seats, BJP won five seats and Congress won three in the May 2023 elections

Updated - April 21, 2024 01:24 pm IST

Published - April 20, 2024 03:22 pm IST - Bengaluru

The candidature of Shobha Karandlaje, BJP MP of Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat, from Bengaluru North was initially met with resistance from local leaders with a “Go Back Shobha” campaign, similar to what she faced in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat this time.

The candidature of Shobha Karandlaje, BJP MP of Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat, from Bengaluru North was initially met with resistance from local leaders with a “Go Back Shobha” campaign, similar to what she faced in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat this time.

The twist in Bengaluru North Lok Sabha constituency this election is that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that has won the seat consistently since 2004 and had secured over 50% vote share in 2014 and 2019, is facing a tough contest from the Congress party, which has fielded Prof. M. V. Rajeev Gowda, who is contesting elections for the first time.

A former professor at IIM, Bangalore, Prof. Gowda comes from a political family of freedom fighters. However, voters in the constituency are relatively less familiar with him, as against the BJP candidate Shobha Karandlaje. 

The candidature of Ms. Karandlaje, MP of Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat, from Bengaluru North was initially met with resistance from local leaders with a “Go Back Shobha” campaign, similar to what she faced in Udupi-Chikkamagaluru seat this time.

“Our party has always chosen candidates from outside for our seat, which disappoints us. But we are working for Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said a BJP worker in the constituency.

Rumblings within BJP

“Rumblings within the BJP cadre and disinterest by legislators has led to some anxiety within the party’s top brass over the seat. The local leaders are not very visible on the ground. Ms. Karandlaje has also been maintaining a low profile,” according to a senior party leader.

However, S. Harish, president, Bengaluru North, BJP, rubbished the claims and said that all the initial confusion had been sorted out and the campaign was upbeat. “This is a national election. People are upbeat about Narendra Modi and will vote for him,” he said.

The party has a lot riding over the Prime Minister’s rally at Palace Grounds on April 20.

The assembly seat tally is favourable to the BJP. Of the eight Assembly seats, BJP won five seats and Congress won three in the May 2023 elections. However, of them Yeshwantpur MLA S. T. Somashekhar has distanced himself from BJP and has been openly working for the Congress.

“In 2019, Mr. Somashekhar was an MLA with the Congress. Despite that, we managed to get a lead from his seat. In fact, we were in power in only one of eight seats then while the then allies Congress and JD(S) were holding seven seats. We won decisively with our vote share crossing 50%. People vote for Narendra Modi,” Mr. Harish said. 

However, many voters in the constituency The Hindu spoke to raised concerns over inaccessibility of MPs.

“We had elected D. V. Sadananda Gowda twice, and before that D. B. Chandre Gowda. None of them were accessible to us. Even when our areas were flooded, the MP did not turn up. Now Shobha Karandlaje is also not from the city. On the other hand, we don’t know the Congress candidate at all,” said Muniswamy, a voter in K. R. Puram.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah along with M.V. Rajeev Gowda, Congress candidate for Bengaluru North constituency, address during a road show at Gayathrinagar, ahead of Loka Sabha election 2024, in Bengaluru on April 07, 2024.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah along with M.V. Rajeev Gowda, Congress candidate for Bengaluru North constituency, address during a road show at Gayathrinagar, ahead of Loka Sabha election 2024, in Bengaluru on April 07, 2024. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

While Ms. Karandlaje’s campaign has faced some hiccups, Prof. Gowda’s big hurdle seems to be that he is not a familiar face despite his credentials and intellectual calibre. Prof. Gowda was a Rajya Sabha member during 2014-2020. However, not many voters, especially those in lower income groups, have heard of him.

‘Modi fatigue’

Byatarayanapura MLA and Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said Congress had put up a ‘clean candidate’ with a vision for the city. “There are rumblings within the BJP over their candidate, with BJP always fielding outsiders. A Modi fatigue has set in. Many BJP workers themselves have told us that we stand a chance to win this time. The response to Prof. Gowda has been good,” he said. 

While there is no ‘wave’ favouring either side this time, BJP seems to be relying on the ‘Modi factor’ to cross the finishing line.

Notably, leaders cutting across party lines predict that voter turnout may come down given the lack of a high-voltage battle. 

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.