Bengaluru: The entry of the Social Democratic party of India (SDPI) in the Shivajinagar Assembly constituency for the first time this bypoll, has thrown up an interesting battle in the segment as it’s widely believed it could lead to a division of the minority votes and help the BJP win the seat this time.
Congress candidate, Rizwan Arshad, now has a bigger battle on his hands as he is already competing against Janata Dal (S) national spokesman, Tanveer Ahmedulla who is contesting from the constituency and Congress rebel, M. Istiyaq Ahmed, who has jumped into the fray as an independent.
Although a new entrant, the SDPI believes it can secure more votes than the JD(S) in Shivajinagar. Said a senior SDPI leader, “We have been working hard in all Muslim -dominated constituencies across the state in general and are confident of securing more votes than the JD(S) in Shivajinagar these bypolls as it has always fared badly here.
Mr Abbas Ali Bohra is the only candidate from the party who has performed decently in the constituency during the last four elections. In 2018, the party secured less than the NOTA votes in the assembly polls. So we are trying to get anywhere between 12,000 to 15000 votes in our maiden attempt. We have succeeded in meeting this target the last election in Sarvajnanagar where we won almost 11,500 votes against Congress veteran, K. J. George."
Claiming that the SDPI was not trying cut into anyone's votes, he maintained that it was merely trying to build its base organically by reaching out to people and working at the grassroots for years. "Ours is not mass -based party like the Congress. But we have dedicated workers across the state and this constituency is no exception. We are working hard here among all communities and are contesting based on a realistic assessment of our strengths and weaknesses," he added.
Meanwhile, a JD(S) leader said it was also trying to build its base in Shivajinagar and blamed its poor performance in the past in the constituency on its decision to field a new candidate from it every election. “This is one of the main reasons why we have not fared well in the constituency, which was once a bastion of the Janata Parivar,” he argued, recalling that many of its leaders like C. M. Ibrahim, M. Raghupathy and even present disqualified legislator, R. Roshan Baig have won from it. “ Mr Baig, in fact, made this his constituency, and has won a record five times from it. This clearly shows the Janata Dal has its votebank here and it only needs to tap it again," he contended.
Meanwhile, in an interesting turn of events, Congress leader and former rowdysheeter, M. Ishtiyaq Ahmed, who has been campaigning alongside Mr Arshad, suddenly began distributing pamphlets seeking votes for himself just hours before the official campaign ended on Tuesday. "Ishtiyaq Ahmed is a strongman here and his wife has been winning BBMP ward elections from the constituency. He can easily turn the tide against Mr Arshad as he has a command over not less than 6,000 to 8000 votes in his ward.
So, it looks like Mr Arshad is facing a tough battle this bypoll," said a senior leader, who is a close associate of the Congress rebel....