Arena of the Veteran and the technocrat

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BANGLORE Mar, 25: The prestigious Bangalore South constituency has never failed to hog the limelight during Lok Sabha elections. More so this time as technocrat and Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, one of the country’s richest candidates, is contesting on Congress ticket and is pitted against Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ananth Kumar, who has held sway here since 1996.

The constituency is diverse. It encompasses little shops that sell puja accessories at Gandhi Bazaar, Electronics City, BTM Layout that houses a large number of bureaucrats and best-planned residential layouts, and commercial complexes in Jayanagar.

It appears to represent both the traditional and changing face of the city. While techies have migrated from other States for jobs in IT firms here, it has conservative areas that are considered “old Bangalore”, with the trading classes and a mix of all communities.

It comprises eight Assembly constituencies — Jayanagar, Basavanagudi, Chickpet, Vijayanagar, Govindarajanagar, Padmanabhanagar, BTM Layout and Bommanahalli. Both the BJP and the Congress bagged four seats each here in the 2013 Assembly elections.

The Bangalore South constituency has been a BJP bastion since 1996. Mr. Ananth Kumar has won in this constituency five times consecutively, between 1996 and 2009. Mr. Kumar has been the party national general secretary for a decade now. The Congress represented it six times in 1951, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1971 and 1989, Janata Party three times in 1977, 1980 and 1984.

Both Mr. Nilekani and Mr. Kumar have been intensively campaigning in the constituency for over a month now. Both have explored various campaigning modes, including the social media, to reach out to the urban voter.

Overnight, Mr. Nilekani gave up his executive attire to sport khadi. Over the last two weeks, both Mr. Kumar and Mr. Nilekani have been found interacting with students; eating dosas and idlis at local restaurants asking for “ideas” for Bangalore; playing cricket; participating in cyclothons, and padayatras in residential colonies to woo voters. Mr. Kumar is banking on his “veteran” status and is sparing no opportunity to call his opponent a “greenhorn”. The impact of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cannot be discounted in this constituency. AAP candidate Nina Nayak is very new to politics after being in various posts in the field of child welfare for more than three decades. The Janata Dal (Secular) is yet to announce its candidate for the constituency.

However, the incumbent would have the responsibility to surmount problems such as drinking water and electricity supply, and maintenance of roads and parks improvements. Increased commercialisation has led to severe road traffic and parking problems in the old areas, as well as new ones such as Padmanabhanagar, Banashankari, HSR Layout, Koramangala and BTM Layout.

Beset with civic problems, some areas in the constituency are crying for attention. Residents complain about garbage disposal, poorly maintained footpaths, vehicle parking slots, drains, toilets, among other problems.

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