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Karnataka bypolls: Top Congress, BJP leaders descend upon KR Pura ahead of high-stakes contest

Indian Express 2019-12-03 11:48:51
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and other senior BJP leaders campaigning for BJP candidate Byrathi Basavaraj in KR Pura, Bengaluru. (Express Photo)

The Congress hopes to retain the Krishnarajapura (KR Pura) Assembly constituency, a seat it held for two terms since 2013 until its sitting MLA Basavaraj Byrathi joined the BJP earlier this year. The party has fielded former KR Puram block president and MLC M Narayanaswamy in the bypolls to be held on December 5

Speaking to IndianExpress.com, Narayanaswamy exuded confidence that the people would vote for the Congress again. “Two times Basavaraj has won in the name of Congress, but now he has ignored the mandate of the people and joined the BJP,” he said.

Basavaraj, who was a close aide of former chief minister Siddaramaiah, had won the seat in 2013 and 2018 by a margin of over 32,000 and 24,000 votes, respectively. His 2018 win was aided with the party capturing six of the nine local body seats. “I have all the confidence that people will support me and help me win this constituency for the third time,” Basavaraj, who is the BJP’s candidate from the seat, told IndianExpress.com.

“Narayanaswamy was MLC but didn’t do anything for the constituency. Why would people elect him? I am available for the people and the constituency,” he added.

Basavaraj was one of the 15 MLAs who resigned in July this year, in a bid to help the BJP topped the HD Kumaraswamy-led government.

In the three-way contest, the Janata Dal (Secular) has fielded Krishna Murthy with an eye on Vokkaliga votes. Of the 4.8 lakh voters in KR Pura, one of the biggest constituencies in Bengaluru, the Vokkaliga Community dominates with 65,000 voters. There are 35,000 Dalit voters, while Christians and Muslims together account for about 70,000 voters. SC/ST voters are about 55,000, Kuruba voters of 50,000 and others are about 2,06,000.

JD(S) candidate C Krishnamurthy told IndianExpress.com, “The people are fed up with the political games of the other two parties, I can see there are a lot of civic issues which should be solved first.”

Senior Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar campaigning for KR Pura Congress candidate Narayanaswamy. (Express Photo)

The KR Puram Assembly constituency was carved out of Varthur and Yelahanka constituencies in 2008. It is a fast-developing area in the city, and many multinationals and IT companies have set up companies here. It falls in the Bangalore North Parliamentary constituency.

Before its demarcation, A Krishnappa of the Congress had won the seat four times. After it became a separate constituency in 2008, BJP’s Nandiesha Reddy won with a margin of 8,792 votes.

From Siddharamaiah to Yediyurappa, the BJP and the Congress have deployed their top state leaders to campaign for the much-awaited polls.

The people in the constituency, meanwhile, complain of a range of issues — from traffic congestion, especially near the Tin Factory and KR Puram hanging bridge, floods, water scarcity and poor garbage management.

“The politicians are just looking after their growth, not of the constituency. We are facing severe water problems, badly maintained roads and potholes. The present MLA has resigned for political gain without considering his people who have voted for him,” said Muniyappa, a vendor in the KR Puram market.

Prasad, a resident who works as an auto driver, said, “Byrathi Basavaraj has helped people here, he has taken some development work in the area and especially improving the market area so whichever the party he represents he will help people.”

Nagendra, a resident of Vijnana Nagar ward, said, “The politicians are playing the dirty games by resigning; they have put more burden on the people. Due to the bypoll, a lot of money is wasted to conduct an election that should have been used to develop the constituency. Basavaraj has clearly ignored the mandate of the people.

There are 4,81,202 registered voters in KR Puram constituency where 2,51,919 male voters, 2,29,123 female voters and 160 others.