Cong’s newbie to take on BJP veteran

Deccan Chronicle.  | Aksheev Thakur

Nation, Politics

A well planned locality of the city, Jayanagar is also one of the largest assembly constituencies of South Bengaluru.

Jayanagar

Bengaluru: A well planned locality of the city, Jayanagar is also one of the largest assembly constituencies of South Bengaluru. But like everywhere else , commercialisation is creeping into the once peaceful residential area, leaving people crying out for the peace and quiet of the past.

Worse, the floods of the 2017 monsoon, which left many parts inundated, has not endeared the BBMP to them. “Last year’s monsoon was a nightmare as it left us marooned. And what is worse, BBMP officials did not bother to listen to  our complaints,” says Mr Adwait, a sales professional from the locality. 

Steeped in tradition with its fair share of temples and several homes that still retain their old world charm, Jayanagar, however, doesn’t  seem against giving a new face a chance , which could make the coming electoral battle from the constituency interesting with  Home Minister, Ramalinga Reddy hoping to  field his daughter, Soumya Reddy against sitting MLA  BN Vijay Kumar of the BJP. 

What could work to Ms Soumya Reddy’s advantage is that although traditional, the people here are also well educated. Additionally, many seem to see her as an environmentalist with sound values.

“She is an environmentalist and her vision for the constituency strikes a chord with the young, who are disgruntled with the dismal employment scene. Moreover, her idea about training dropouts in various skills is great. She should be given a fair chance,” says Mr Adwait. 

 But on the other hand,  sitting MLA , Vijay Kumar declares he is confident of winning a third term based on the developmental work he has done in the constituency over the past five years. And he has his supporters here like Mr Gaurav Kashyap, a software professional, who finds him people- friendly and focused on improving the area, which is already quite well  developed, being one of the oldest in the city.

“Irrespective of ideologies, I believe one should opt for good candidates. Mr Vijay Kumar has always been approachable. What more  can people ask for? In fact, Jayanagar was one of the first constituencies to implement rain water harvesting,” he recalls.

But the rapid urbanisation of the once largely residential area has not gone down well with most locals.  Reminiscing about the glory of old Jayanagar, a  resident of Jayanagar block 9,  Haritha Murthy, says it’s important for politicians to make sure that residential areas are not  indiscriminately encroached on by malls, restaurants and pubs. 

“They should not be allowed to destroy the serenity of one of the greenest localities of the city. The commercialisation cannot be allowed to mess up its  peace and tranquility,” he emphasises. Many are also upset with the still incomplete BDA shopping complex in block 4,  which has been lying idle for the past two years. 

Confident enough to say I will win: Vijay Kumar

With fresh candidates likely to make their debut , how do you see the competition these elections?
I see it like any other election. We have the highest number of educated voters. I am not over-confident but confident enough to say that we will win. I have been available for 365 days and tried to personally address issues concerning the people. I am not in the least bothered about the other candidates. Let them fight the elections, I have faith in my people.

The incomplete BDA shopping complex seems to be worrying many here. What is holding it up? 
See, the problem is the present Congress government. I have held over six meetings with (Bengaluru Development Minister) K J George and over four meetings with BBMP  and BDA officials. But they showed  no interest. The Puttana theatre will be built in the second phase of the complex.

Is there any development issue which you will  address if you get elected a third time?
A lot has been done and  more needs to be done. I have developed the Ragiguda slum and when addressing civic issues, I went to the people with the civic officials concerned. I expect the people to repose faith in me. Although there are no lakes in my constituency, I have worked to rejuvenate water bodies too. They will not be disappointed. 

I have struck a chord with young & old voters: Sowmya Reddy

What is your vision for Jayanagar?
I am drawing up a manifesto, but my major focus will be on women’s safety and employment for dropouts. I had organised a job fair here in the past and that will be on my agenda. There are skilled women who need opportunities. Moreover, there are areas that need development. Above all, I will not be a representative, who shows her face only during elections, but will be available to the  people 24 x 7.

How do you respond when people call you a product of dynastic politics?
I am against perpetuating a  dynasty,  but I want the voters to see me as an individual. I have been an environmentalist, have worked with human rights groups and been constantly involved in social activism. I believe that one should be given a fair chance and hope the voters will judge me on my calibre and not see me as someone from a political lineage.

What has been the response of the voters you have interacted with?
It has been overwhelming. I have struck a chord with both the young and  senior citizens. I plan to come up with a recreation centre for senior citizens and organise monthly medical camps for them. Moreover, in order to take the development of Jayanagar to a new level, regular literary fests will be held and a centre for coaching of UPSC aspirants  set up. I have explained my plans to them and they have appreciated them.

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