It was 4 pm on Tuesday. Sixty-year-old Muniyamma was in her home in Gopalapuram in Gandhinagar, pumping her kerosene stove and placing a small vessel on it to fry the crispy bondas she sold for a living. Outside there were cries of ‘Modi, Modi’, ‘Modi matomme’ (Modi again) and ‘PC Mohan ge nimma matha’ (vote for PC Mohan).
As the slogans grew louder, all of Gopalapuram, located in Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha constituency was flooded in saffron as BJP workers swarmed the area accompanying party candidate, P C Mohan as he campaigned through its streets.
Waving to the people and greeting them with folded hands, he handed over pamphlets asking them to vote for him and bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power again with a fully majority to form a stable government at the Centre.
Gopalapuram and nearby areas like Srirampuram, Okalipuram, Ramachandrapuram and Prakashnagar have a significant Tamil population and are home to middle and lower middle class people.
The area is also dotted with several small scale industries.
As she sold her bondas by the roadside, Muniyamma had no doubt who she would vote for. “Enough of family rule in India. I will vote for Modi as I feel he has a lot more to do,” she said.
Mr Wajid, a mechanic in a garage, who emerged from it to watch the election tamasha, however, made it clear he would go for a young face like Congress–Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, Rizwan Arshad.
Wiping his greasy hands with a cotton cloth to have his tea, he said his vote was for a secular party. “Everyone should get ahead together. You cannot take only one community forward and create an environment of fear for the minorities. We should all live in peace and not hate each other,” he said as he sipped his cup of tea, adding that only the Congress party could provide a secular government.
As the padayatra led by Mr Mohan moved ahead, it reached a small hotel in the area, where the cashier was issuing tokens to his customers. Happy to see Mr Mohan and his supporters, he accepted his pamphlet before the BJP candidate continued on his padayatra. A college student, Hariharan, who is looking forward to voting for the first time this election, seemed fascinated by the scene and the pro- Modi slogans being raised.
“We cannot be fooled for long. People of the nation have been deprived of development since independence. What the Congress party couldn’t achieve in six decades, Prime Minister Modi has tried to deliver in the past five years. He deserves a second chance,” he said before vanishing into the crowds.
My works speak for me, I am confident of a hat-trick: PC Mohan
It’s a busy time for BJP’s sitting MP and Bangalore Central candidate, P.C. Mohan. After finishing his road show with film star, Darshan on Monday, he was getting ready for his padayatra in Gandhinagar Tuesday afternoon, when AKNISREE KARTHIK caught up with him for a chat. Excerpts:
You have won from Bengaluru Central twice. But this time besides Mr Rizwan Arshad of the Congress you have actor Prakash Raj in the fray too. How confident are you this time?
I am more confident than I was in 2009 and 2014. In 2009, I won with a 35,000 margin and in 2014 with 1.37 lakh votes. I don't see any competition from Mr Prakash Raj and I am confident that people of my constituency will elect me as my work speaks for itself.
Can you elaborate on the work you have done in the last five years?
Traffic is a major issue in Bengaluru and so I fought for the suburban rail and got Rs 17,000 crore sanctioned for it in and around the city. It is a big achievement as the suburban rail will carry 35 lakh passengers and can easily reduce traffic by 25 per cent. I also got funds under the Amrut scheme for the development of lakes in the city. Defence land, which was required by the BBMP for various developmental projects, was transferred to it through my efforts. I have fully utilised my MPLAD funds as well.
Bengaluru performed dismally in the Swacha Survekshan rankings and the city is short of water. Also, people of your constituency have not succeeded in stopping commercialisation of residential areas despite fighting it for years
All these issues are state subjects and reflect the inefficiency of the state government and the BBMP. I have raised issues like commercialisation in association with the Namma Bengaluru Foundation. There was some action initially , but it died down, reflecting the government's inefficiency.
What can people expect if you are re-elected?
They can expect me to work for the implementation of the suburban rail project and expansion of the Metro in the city. Water levels in the city have gone down drastically and lakes are in poor condition. I would like to rejuvenate lakes and improve the water table in the city with the help of treated water. I will be the voice of Bengaluru in parliament.
You and other BJP leaders took to the streets to protest the planned steel flyover, but have not come out against the elevated corridor as much. Why ? Does the BJP plan to silently go ahead with the project if it forms the government here?
Whether we the form government or not, I believe we should listen to the people and give them a proper platform to air their views. But what is happening here is that they are not being listened to and kept in the dark about crucial details. We will listen to the people and go ahead as they wish.
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