Karnataka will vote to elect a new government next Saturday and the outcome of the poll will have impact on the subsequent assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh followed by the mother of all elections in 2019.
I’ve been visiting Bengaluru quite frequently since I have many close relatives live here. However, my visit to the tech city to gauge the pulse of voters a couple days ago was insightful in many ways.
The Congress seems to have retained its support base in Bengaluru as voters appear satisfied with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. In Yeshwantpur a tea-seller told me, ‘ham Congress ko vote karega. Siddaramaiah good man hai. Kaam achcha kiya hai.”
In the 2013 assembly polls, Congress had won 14 out of 28 assembly seats in Bengaluru. 12 had gone to the BJP while the JDS had bagged three. In March this year, seven JDS MLAs sensationally resigned from their party to join the Congress in the presence of Rahul Gandhi. Two of them, BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan and Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy R, represented the two key Bengaluru seats, Chameajpet and Pulakeshinagar, respectively. The Congress is bouyed by the JDS MLAs joining the party hoping that this will help it add more seats in Bengauluru in this year’s elections.
The reason for Congress’s optimism in Bengaluru is also the Siddaramaiah government’s initiative to provide affordable food to the city’s population through Indira canteens. The Indira Canteen, which was inaugurated by Rahul Gandhi on 15 August last year, appears to have made the voters on the lower economic ladder very happy. In Indira Canteens, while the breakfast is available for just Rs 5, one can buy lunch for just Rs 10.
BJP and JDS
Those who voted for the BJP in 2013 also indicated their support for the saffron party this time around. Chandrasekhar, an employee with a hospitality chain said, “We’ve always voted for the BJP and the party will have our vote even this time too. We are behind Mr Modi. I think he’s doing a good job for the country.” He was, however, quick to add that Siddaramaiah was a good man and had been a good chief minister.
He, however, could not name a single achievement of the central government, indicating that the phenomenon of Modi magic did not rely on good governance for it to work.
The JDS, which many pollsters have projected to emerge as the kingmaker on 15 May, does not appear to have any significant support in Bengaluru even though HD Kumaraswamy, also a former chief minister, has been winning from Ramnagar, a constituency, which is only 55 kms away.
Alot of JDS supporters who voted the party in the past are wary of Kumaraswamy’s intention this time with many suspecting him to tie up with the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had showered praises on Kumaraswamy’s father and former prime minister, HD Deve Gowda, during the election campaign.
P.S: Bengaluru has been notorious for its traffic jam. However, those annoying jams seem to have become a thing of the past, perhaps because of the Bengaluru’s Namma Metro. The city’s top quality roads coupled with better civic sense displayed by citizens have contributed to the improvement of the traffic situation.