It’s incumbent vs. first-timers here

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Although 26 candidates have plunged into the fray in this newly carved constituency, Bangalore Central is likely to witness a straight fight between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, with Janata Dal (Secular) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates also campaigning aggressively, their presence in the fray is likely to have significant ramifications on the vote percentages.

The race here is between the incumbent MP, P.C. Mohan, and first-time contestants from all other major parties. The constituency has 19.3 lakh voters and more than 8 lakh of them are aged under 35.

In 2009, H.T. Sangliana of the Congress lost to Mr. Mohan, who won by a margin of 35,218 votes.

This time, however, the Congress has fielded the State Youth Congress chief Rizwan Arshad while the BJP has retained Mr. Mohan as its candidate. The former Infosys CFO V. Balakrishnan is the AAP candidate, and the former Minister late Jeevaraj Alva’s wife Nandini Alva is the JD(S) nominee.

Mr. Arshad, who has apparently been handpicked by AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, says he is not worried over the resentment of veteran Congress leader C.K. Jaffer Sharief. The senior Congressman was an aspirant for ticket and has been sulking ever since he was denied it. The grapevine in Congress circles is that senior Muslim politicians are worried that they may be sidelined if Mr. Arshad becomes popular.

Mr. Arshad, however, says: “I’m not banking just on my community votes (6.5 minority population, including two lakh Christians). I belong to the community of youth and with more than 8 lakh voters aged under 35, I’m confident of winning.”

His campaign manager Mehroz Khan is confident that the Congress has an edge as it holds sway in four of the eight Assembly constituencies in Bangalore Central — Shivajinagar, Sarvajnanagar, Gandhinagar and Shantinagar.

On the other hand, having served a term as a Lok Sabha member, Mr. Mohan is a picture of confidence. He claims he has an edge as there is a ‘Modi wave’ across the country. “I have been accessible to voters and have nurtured the constituency in the last five years,” he says.

Mr. Balakrishnan, who has been campaigning vigorously with his band of supporters, says that people of Bangalore will vote this time depending on the credentials of the candidate. “They will vote for change,” he says.

Ms. Alva, who is banking on the popularity of JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and the image of her late husband, has also been campaigning aggressively. Her campaign is high on the glamour quotient as she herself is a well-known classical dancer and her son-in-law Vivek Oberoi, Bollywood actor, is also seeking votes for her.

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