Picking Tejasvi Surya instead of Tejaswini angers BJP Bangalore South constituency cadres, but it won't hurt party's chances

If history is anything to go by, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shouldn't have much to worry in the high profile Bangalore South constituency despite the controversial choice of its candidate, thanks to a deep-seated sentiment of anti-Congressism.

BS Nagaraj March 28, 2019 16:48:17 IST
Picking Tejasvi Surya instead of Tejaswini angers BJP Bangalore South constituency cadres, but it won't hurt party's chances

If history is anything to go by, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shouldn't have much to worry in the high profile Bangalore South constituency despite the controversial choice of its candidate, thanks to a deep-seated sentiment of anti-Congressism.

Bangalore South has been an anti-Congress bastion since the seat was carved out in 1977. Out of 11 general elections, non-Congress candidates have won the seat 10 times. The only exception was 1989, when the late Congress chief minister R Gundu Rao swept the elections winning by a margin of over two lakh votes.

The constituency, from where Ananth Kumar was elected to the Lok Sabha for six times, has been in the news for the wrong reasons as far as the BJP is concerned. His widow Tejaswini who was widely-tipped to be the BJP's choice for the seat, was denied the ticket. In her place, Tejasvi Surya was picked with the late leader's supporters screaming betrayal.

But how much of this anger will impact the BJP's chances? Not much.

For one, Tejaswini herself has said she will work to realise the goal of NaMoAgain. Her supporters may still be unable to get over the insult but they have little choice but to back Tejasvi. They, too, equally want Narendra Modi as the prime minister for a second term.

Picking Tejasvi Surya instead of Tejaswini angers BJP Bangalore South constituency cadres but it wont hurt partys chances

Tejasvi Surya has been picked as BJP candidate for the prestigious Bangalore South constituency.

Second, unlike in some other constituencies in Karnataka, the Congress cannot expect the benefit of an incremental vote because of its alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular). The JD(S) doesn't have much of a base in this Lok Sabha constituency even if its core voters, the Vokkaligas, are present in significant numbers. This was evident, for example, in the 2014 elections when the JD(S) candidate polled a measly 25,677 votes. Nandan Nilekani of the Congress secured 4.05 lakh votes but that wasn't enough to better Ananth Kumar's 6.33 lakh votes.

The best showing by the Congress was in 2009 when Krishna Byre Gowda came just 37,000 votes short of Ananth Kumar's tally. Gowda is now the Congress contestant in Bangalore North constituency.

Third, there is much speculation about whether some Congress leaders who enjoy influence in the constituency like Ramalinga Reddy will enthusiastically work for party candidate B K Hariprasad. Reddy had his own axe to grind with the Congress leadership after being denied a Cabinet berth.

Fourth, while Hariprasad is known for his organisational skills and can be a formidable rival to the BJP, he was recently in the eye of a storm for characterising the Pulwama terror attack as "match fixing" by Modi. He had to face a barrage of criticism for his comment and the BJP will not miss making it a campaign issue.

Fifth, the BJP has the advantage of Narendra Modi's positive appeal among the middle class who constitute a large section of the electorate in this seat.

It is still early, but it would be foolish to write off the Congress which is represented in three Assembly segments of the Lok Sabha constituency. The remaining five are held by the BJP. The Congress can draw some comfort from the fact that in 2018 it wrested the Jayanagar Assembly seat from the BJP.

It was a shocking loss for the BJP which had hoped to cash in on the popularity of BN Vijayakumar, the sitting MLA who died after the Assembly elections were announced. His brother was the candidate in the postponed election for the seat.

The BJP had blamed the consolidation of Muslim votes for its loss in that election. If similar consolidation of Muslim, Vokkaliga and OBC votes were to happen again, the Congress can hope to dent the BJP's edge in this constituency with one of the largest concentrations of Brahmins in Karnataka.

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