Bangalore, May 1, 2013, DHNS : Demolition of Economically Weaker Sections quarters at Ejipura major poll issue here.
The Shantinagar Assembly constituency has elite areas such as Brigade Road and Lavelle Road. But, all the candidates are concentrating their energies on areas where the poor reside- Ejipura, Jayarajnagar, Sonnenahalli – for that is where the majority of the votes lie.
Drinking water shortage, garbage menace, uncleaned drains, overflowing sewerage have been election issues in Shantinagar constituency over the decades. This time, the demolition of the economically weaker sections (EWS) quarters in Ejipura has taken centrestage.
There has been a relentless campaign by political opponents of the sitting MLA N A Harris of the Congress, holding him responsible for the misery of those evicted.
Following court orders, earlier this year more than 2,000 people were evicted from 15 acres and 22 guntas of land, on which the quarters stood, to make way for the construction of a mall as well as tenements for the original residents.
This issue has come in handy for former deputy mayor and two-time corporator Vasudeva Murthy of the JD(S) to project Harris as “anti-poor.” At the same time, Harris is taking pains to explain that it was he who had come to the rescue of the original residents by ensuring that they get quality tenements at the same site alongside the mall. The recent evictions were confined to illegal occupants to whom alternative arrangements would be made at Sarjapur, Harris’ supporters point out.
Credit can be given for Harris for taking up several developmental projects in the constituency over the last five years. Be it providing piped water, new sanitary lanes or construction of high-rise houses for the poor, the MLA’s efforts have been welcomed by his constituents.
Mayor in race
Vasudeva Murthy has been going around the constituency especially the slum areas of Jayarajnagar, Rudrappa Garden, Ukadapalya Sonnenahalli, Andhra Lines, John Bull Street, L R Nagar, Maya Bazar, promising houses or possession certificates for the poor.
Vasudeva Murthy was elected to the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike twice from the Shantinagar ward. He did not contest the 2010 BBMP polls as the ward was reserved for women. Vasudeva Murthy says his innings as a corporator is still appreciated by the people.
The BJP candidate is Bangalore Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy, who is the corporator of Kathriguppe ward which does not fall under the constituency. Both, Harris and Vasudeva Murthy dub him as an “outsider” and do not see much of a threat from him.
However, Venkatesh Murthy says people of the constituency are looking for a change. His another claim is that he as the mayor sanctioned several projects for various wards in the constituency but Harris failed to utilise the same.
Despite the Mayor’s presence in the fray, it appears to be a straight fight between Harris and Vasudeva Murthy.
The total electorate in the constituency is 1.95 lakh with a large number of Muslims and Tamil-speaking people. It is also home to a large number of Christians.