RR Nagar bypoll: INC's Munirathna set to retain crucial seat; contractor-turned-politico overcomes Vokkaliga challenge

If latest reports are to believed, Congress has managed to retain its position in Bengaluru's Rajarajeshwari Nagar with its candidate Munirathna Naidu taking a commanding lead over Muniraju Gowda, the BJP candidate, in the bypoll.

As per News18, Gowda has left the counting centre in Rajarajeshwari Nagar as his Congress rival Munirathna leads by over 45,000 votes. Gowda's supporters have conceded defeat but there is no word yet from the BJP leader, the report said.

 RR Nagar bypoll: INCs Munirathna set to retain crucial seat; contractor-turned-politico overcomes Vokkaliga challenge

Representational image. AFP

Contractor-turned-politico Munirathna had his task cut out ahead of the bypoll, going by the indications emerging from the Vokkaliga dominated RR Nagar constituency. He had to overcome the uphill task of contesting against two Vokkaliga candidates in GH Ramachandra of the JD(S) and BJP's Gowda.

According to a report in Deccan Chronicle, his image had taken a serious beating after he had allegedly manhandled three women BBMP corporators a few years ago, with the incident coming back to haunt him during the bypoll. The three corporators, two of the JD(S) and one of the Congress, were all Vokkaligas.

There were even reports that the powerful Adichunchanagiri Math, as well as the Vokkaligara Sangha, were determined to see him defeated, the report added. But, the INC leader seems to have beat the odds to clinch the seat by a comfortable margin.

Munirathna, the incumbent first-time MLA from the Indian National Congress (INC), began his political career as a municipal corporator from Yeshwanthpur and was previously a private contractor. He is also a well-known Kannada film producer.

He was named in the Lokayukta Report in 2010 as responsible for the death of Sanjana Singh, a 17-year-old student, who died when the wall of Government Veterinary Hospital collapsed on her. Munirathna was the BBMP contractor who had built the structure.

His affidavit to the Election Commission in 2013 makes no mention of any cases against him. Muniratna was recently named in the fake bill scam in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is probing the Rs 1,500-crore scam, named the MLA as accused in its chargesheet filed on 23 February, sources in the agency confirmed.

Reports suggest that the low voter turnout, 54 percent, worked in the favour of Munirathna, with the upper and middle-class Vokkaligas –who were vocal against him – not turning up at the polling booths.

Fourteen candidates were in the fray in Rajarajeshwari Nagar polls, including the incumbent MLA in the dissolved Assembly. A little over half of the 4.71 lakh voters in the constituency had voted on 28 May.

While Assembly elections across the state were held on 12 May, polling in Rajarajeshwari Nagar was conducted on 28 May, as the Election Commission had deferred polling there following the voter ID controversy and various other irregularities.

According to a DNA report, Munirathna was also named in an FIR in the Karnataka voter id scandal. Nearly 10,000 "fake" voter IDs were recovered from a flat in a constituency in Karnataka, setting off a major row erupted over electoral malpractices, ahead of the 12 May elections.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: May 31, 2018 12:26:27 IST