MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Wednesday, 26 June 2024

Lok Sabha elections: In BJP fortress, challenge is to make people vote

While BJP has well-entrenched network to sweat it out, Congress is trying to breach saffron fortress by fielding Sowmya, daughter of transport minister Ramalinga Reddy

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 25.04.24, 07:04 AM
Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy campaigns; (right) Tejasvi Surya and BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president K. Annamalai on a roadshow in Siddapura, Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency, on Monday

Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy campaigns; (right) Tejasvi Surya and BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president K. Annamalai on a roadshow in Siddapura, Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency, on Monday Picture by K.M. Rakesh

Telangana chief minister A. Revanth Reddy addressing Congress roadshows in Telugu and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai communicating in Tamil emphasise the linguistic plurality in the Karnataka capital.

The two leaders who campaigned in Bengaluru South for Sowmya Reddy, 41, and incumbent MP Tejasvi Surya, 33, respectively, were only trying to appeal to the linguistic minorities in the constituency that the BJP has never lost since 1991.

ADVERTISEMENT

Revanth, speaking in Telugu, told a large gathering last Saturday: “Last time you elected 25 BJP MPs from here, but only Prahlad Joshi was included in the cabinet. But seven of the 26 MPs from Gujarat were made ministers, while Uttar Pradesh got 12 ministers.

“This means Modi loves Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh more than Karnataka
and Telangana,” Revanth alleged, with Sowmya nodding in approval.

BJP’s Annamalai took time off his busy schedule on Monday — he is trying his luck from the Coimbatore constituency back home, which voted in the first phase — to help Surya bolster his support among Tamils. “Please make sure you cast your valuable votes and support my brother Tejasvi Surya,” Annamalai appealed during a roadshow in the Tamil-dominated Siddapur.

The huge loudspeakers fitted on a pick-up van played Kannada and Tamil songs in praise of Surya and Annamalai, respectively, to drive home the point.

With only five years as an MP to back his claim for another term, Surya appears to be sitting pretty in the BJP stronghold with pockets of Congress territory comprising linguistic and religious minorities.

While the BJP has a well-entrenched network to sweat it out, the Congress is trying to breach the saffron fortress by fielding Sowmya, daughter of transport minister Ramalinga Reddy.

She is one of the 12 chi­ldren of state Congress leaders and ministers preferred over local leaders, drawing jibes from the BJP-Janata Dal Secular combine, that’s taking on the ruling party in all 28 seats in Karnataka.

“Doesn’t the Congress have any young leaders capable of contesting against the BJP? This shows their leadership is bankrupt (of ideas),” Surya repeatedly reminds his campaign audience.

But Surya himself is a dynast of sorts with his uncle L.A. Ravi Subramanya being a longtime politician and sitting MLA of Basavangudi, a part of the Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency.

Seeking to repeat his 2019 performance, Surya claims devolution of taxes to Karnataka has only increased under the Modi government. But he has a serious concern.

“The difference between BJP and Congress voters is that while 80 per cent of the people support the BJP, only 20 per cent vote. But 80 per cent of Congress supporters will cast their votes although only 20 per cent of the voters actually want them,” he told residents of an apartment complex.

Sowmya is meanwhile pulling out all the stops to prove a point since she lost her Jayanagar Assembly seat, won in 2018, by just 16 votes to the BJP in 2023.

“Although I am the daughter of a senior leader, I was born and raised here and hence know every corner of this city and understand your problems very well,” she reminds her audience at roadshows.

“Only performance counts,” she counters, rubbishing Surya’s allegations about dynastic politics in the Congress. For one, she doesn’t think Bengaluru South is an impenetrable fortress. “It will be breached this time,” she says.

Bengaluru South votes on April 26

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT