It is a gentleman’s contest in Bangalore North Lok Sabha constituency where the Congress and BJP candidates are locked in an equally poised fight.
The “ever-smiling” D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Chief Minister, and C Narayanaswamy, known as gentlemen and sober politicians, are slugging it out in what both consider as a “safe seat” for them in a “decent” fight.
Mr Narayanaswamy, who has risen from the grassroot politics, was chosen the Congress candidate after winning the primaries, reportedly with the solid backing of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Mr Gowda had a brief stint as Chief Minister succeeding B S Yeddyurappa after he quit the top post over corruption charge in 2011. He had to relinquish chief minister’s post as Mr Yeddyurappa wanted his scalp as he felt Mr Gowda was growing too big for his boots and was replaced by Jagadish Shettar.
He had also to struggle to get the ticket for the constituency for which powerful state leader and former Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok too had laid claim before bowing out to remain in state politics.
JDS has fielded cop-turned politician Abdul Azeem and Aam Aadmi Party Babu Mathew, a trade union leader and former registrar of the National Law School of India University.
Observers note that both candidates have the potential to tilt the scales.
Mr Gowda is hoping to retain the seat which his party colleague Chandre Gowda won in the 2009 polls but is battling the “outsider” tag as he is from Dakshina Kannada district.
He had been an MP twice earlier.
Mr Gowda is mainly showcasing his achievements as the chief minister during a short stint, including “Sakala” scheme for providing time-bound services, apart from seeking votes in the name of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
His party leaders reckon that he has high chances of winning as there are 8.5 lakh young voters in the 18-30 age group who they feel are leaning towards it due to Mr Modi.
BJP is also banking on a sizeable number of voters from North Indian states whom it considers as its sure supporters.
Congress is hoping to win the seat on the basis of caste chemistry and minorities support. Of the 23 lakh voters, it is eyeing eleven lakh votes belonging to Vokkaliga, SC/ST, OBC and Muslim communities.
However, the JDS decision to field a Muslim candidate, Abdul Azim, could upset Congress calculations.
Congress has turned the battle into an outsider and native candidates. It has been campaigning hard to paint Mr Gowda as an outsider and Mr Narayanaswamy a native.
However, the BJP candidate, with his clean image and support of local Vokkaliga leaders R Ashok and others, has countered “outsider’ tag by highlighting his performance as chief minister.
Congress also is playing up the clean and secular image of Mr Narayanaswamy, who a year ago migrated to Congress from JDS. He is confident of a win because he had won the seat as a JDS candidate in 1996.
Congress was winning the constituency until 2004, but the seat was snatched by H T Sangliana on a BJP ticket but later he crossed over to Congress.
The AAP candidate is also silently working and could cut into the vote base of either of the two national parties.
Out of eight Assembly segments, BJP and Congress have three each and JDS two.