Bangalore Rural is a seat which has stood by the Congress in recent years even as many of the party’s strongholds fell to the saffron wave. A large part of the credit for this should go to the DK brothers—Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar and current MP D.K. Suresh for carefully nursing the constituency. With elections round the corner, Mr Suresh is expected to romp home again and more so because he now has the backing of the JD(S) too but there are problems like worker co-ordination and feuding leaders which are proving to be a bit of a headache for him.Vinay Madhav profiles this constituency which will again prove if the Congress-JD(S) coalition is really working at the grassroots.
Bangalore Rural runs like a garland around Bengaluru city and ends in Kunigal in Tumkuru district. It has three urban Assembly segments and also the Vokkaliga dominated constituencies in Ramangara district
In the 2014 Parliament elections, Mr D.K. Suresh had successfully halted the Modi wave in his constituency and won by a comfortable margin of over 2.30 lakh votes, in a triangular fight between the Congress, BJP and JD(S).
A lot has changed since then. The arch rivals of the DK brothers -- Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has joined hands with them, while Channapatna strongman Mr C.P. Yogeshwar, who was with them during the 2014 polls, is now in the BJP. Going by simple arithmetic and the fact that the Congress and JD(S) have fielded a single candidate, Mr Suresh should win by at least five lakh votes.
However, things are not as simple as they look on the surface. Like any other constituency in the state, the coalition partners are facing coordination problems at the grassroot level. The BJP, which has never won the constituency is planning to broaden its base as the rival of the Congress in the absence of the JD(S). The saffron party has fielded Vokkaliga leader Mr Ashwathnarayana who hails from neighboring Mandya district.
Of the eight Assembly segments in the constituency, Bangalore South, Rajarajeshwarinagar and Anekal are urban constituencies. During the 2014 elections, Bangalore South had given a massive lead to the BJP and this time also, it is in the hands of a BJP MLA, Mr Krishnappa.
In Rajarajeshwarinagar too, which is Vokkaliga dominated, in the absence of a JD(S) candidate , the BJP is expected to take over this space and votes too. Besides, Rajarajeshwarinagar MLA Mr Munirathna Naidu and the DK brothers share a strained relationship, which might prove to be a setback for the Congress.
In Anekal, the difference between the Congress and BJP during the 2018 assembly elections was just around 8500 votes. However, the Congress has a big advantage in Kanakapura, Ramanagar and Magadi constituencies though there are co-ordination issues in Ramanagar and Magadi. In the Ramanagar by-election, Mrs Anitha Kumaraswamy had won by a margin of over 1.09 lakh votes. The BJP candidate, who had retired from the contest, had still polled 16000 votes compared to the 5000 votes which party candidates used to get in earlier elections. Over 60,000 voters abstained from voting, which exposed problems between both coalition partners at the grassroot level.
Though the DK brothers had worked hard when Mrs Anitha Kumaraswamy contested the Ramanagar by-election, she has not been able to return the favour in the Parliament election as she seems to be too busy in Mandya, where her son Mr Nikhil Kumaraswamy is contesting.
Channapattana is now represented by Mr H D Kumaraswamy himself. The DK brothers had joined hands with Mr Kumaraswamy to defeat Mr C.P. Yogeshwar, who had migrated to the BJP from the Congress. While the minority votes in the assembly seat may go to the Congress, the Vokkaliga and Dalit votes are likely to be split between the BJP and Congress candidates.
The coaliiton partners are not likely to face any major problem in Magadi but Kunigal is a different story altogether. Senior JD(S) leader Mr D Nagarajaiah represented the constituency six times and was defeated by Mr D.K. Shivakumar's relative Dr Ranganath. Mr Nagarajaiah's brother Mr Krishna Kumar, who had contested on a BJP ticket had come second.
After the 2018 elections, there has been constant friction between JD(S) and Congress workers here. This united Mr Nagarajaiah with his brother Mr Krishna Kumar after a feud over the decades. When Water Resource Minister Mr D.K. Shivakumar went to seek the support of Mr Nagarajaiah, he did not allow the MLA to come inside his office. He also made it clear that he would be working against the coalition partners.
Despite these developments, nothing less than a miracle will help the BJP in the constituency, say sources. However, the party can take over the rival space left vacant by the JD(S) and reach out to more people to create a base in the long term.
Bangalore Rural: A peep into history
The constituency has witnessed long standing rivalry between the DK brothers and the Deve Gowda family. It all started in 1983, when Mr D.K. Shivakumar challenged Mr Deve Gowda in Sathanur Assembly constituency (now merged with Kanakapura) and lost by a narrow margin of 3000 votes. Since then, the two families had a long running feud.
In 1996, Mr H D Kumaraswamy contested from Kanakapura parliamentary constituency and won. In 1998, he contested both from Kanakapura parliamentary constituency as well as Sathanur Assembly seat against Mr Shivakumar and lost in both constituencies. In 2002, when Mr Deve Gowda contested from Kanakapura, Mr Shivakumar, who was minister in the SM Krishna government challenged him but lost by 50,000 votes.
In 2009, Mr Kumaraswamy contested from Bangalore Rural and won. In 2013, when Mr Kumaraswamy got elected to the Assembly, he resigned. His wife Mrs Anitha Kumaraswamy was fielded in the by-election but Mr D.K. Suresh plunged into the electoral fray and defeated her.
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