Bengaluru: The BJP, which has never won from Mahalakshmi Layout in the city, is hoping that fielding disqualified legislator, K. Gopalaiah, will help it beat the Congress and JD(S) for the first time from the constituency these assembly bypolls.
Mr. Gopalaiah was one of the 17 Congress and JD(S) legislators , who resigned in July to bring down the Kumaraswamy government. Since his joining the BJP, the saffron party claims it is confident of winning Mahalakshmi Layout with a huge margin as both he and his wife, Hemalatha, a former deputy mayor, are very familiar with the constituency. Mr. Gopalaiah is able call voters by name and his soft nature and easy accessibility have made him hugely popular over the years, so much so that the BJP believes his defection is a non-issue in the constituency. It in fact appears to think it has struck gold in getting him on its side as he had won from the constituency in both the 2013 and 2018 Assembly elections as a JD(S) candidate.
Former deputy mayor, S.Harish and former MLA, N.L. Narendra Babu of the BJP, who are actively campaigning for him despite being overlooked for the party ticket they had hoped for, claim that that the election is only a formality in Mahalakshmi Layout, as Mr. Gopalaiah has already won and the suspense is only over his victory margin. “Here the election is one- sided as both the Congress and JD(S) have not been able to field strong candidates against Mr. Gopalaiah,” say the two men who had to be pacified to set aside their own interests and work for the party’s victory in the constituency by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
While the Congress has fielded corporator, M.Shivaraj, the JD(S) has fielded Mr Girish K.Nashi, a Lingayat, in the constituency where the majority of voters are Vokkaligas ( 1.4 lakh).
But former Chief Minister, H.D.Kumaraswamy is trying to playing the caste card by pointing out the party’s Vokkaliga MLA (Gopalaiah) not only ditched it, but helped overthrow a Chief Minister from the community.
Whether this tactic will succeed in denting Mr. Gopalaiah’s popularity in the constituency where he has developed an almost cult-like status, remains to be seen, particularly as a majority of JD(S) workers are openly campaigning for him. Congress candidate, Shivaraj, however, claims he can give Mr. Gopalaiah a tough fight as he is a three- time corporator who shares a good rapport with the people of Mahalakshmi Layout.