The electoral battle for Bengaluru South constituency between the young gun from BJP, Tejasvi Surya and Congress veteran BK Hariprasad has gained a lot of national attention. However, the issues that will determine the election needs closer enquiry. Will the voters be making a choice based on national issues or local issues? Will the profile of the candidate matter more than that of the party? Will the manifestos announced by political parties influence the electoral choice?
The recent Lokniti-CSDS Pre-Poll Survey conducted across India in March 2019 has indicated that the popularity of BJP has increased post the Balakot strike. However, the primary issue for election cited by the respondents was unemployment and only 2% cited national security as the biggest issue. However, in an archetypal urban constituency like Benga luru South, which has long been a BJP stronghold, issues like nationalism is likely to play a larger role.
The BJP Manifesto has also made nationalism and national security its calling card and the choice of RSS-favourite Tejasvi Surya for Bengaluru South indicates that they will be playing up the Hindutva factor. The social liberal features of the Congress manifesto and the promise for cash transfer under the NYAY programme may not be issues that resonate with the urban voters.
Hence, ultimately the party and personal loyalties of the voters is likely to still play a major role is deciding the electoral fate of Bengaluru South. The challenge before Tejaswi Surya would be to retain the wide voter base of the late BJP-leader Ananth Kumar who has continuously represented the constituency since 1996. That Brahmins constitute the most dominant community in Bengaluru South will work to Surya’s advantage, but Hariprasad will hope to make inroads into the substantial Vokkaliga and Muslim population. However, both the candidates will have to win the confidence of a wider group of constituents to win this battle.
Mathew Idiculla is a research consultant with the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bengaluru
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