BENGALURU: Will Bajrangbali bail the saffron party out this time in Sarvagnanagar assembly constituency where Muslim and Christian voters hold the sway?
The question looms large over the constituency located in northeast Bengaluru. BJP’s M N Reddy is trying hard to wrest the seat from Bengaluru city development minister and Congress strongman KJ George.
As chairman of Ayodhya Rama Temple Complex, Reddy was instrumental in getting a 62-ft-tall Hanuman statue earlier this month at a disputed site in the constituency. The issue took a political turn with Reddy accusing George of being anti-Hindu and trying to prevent the statue’s entry into the temple complex.
Citizens, cutting across religious lines, however, cribbed that the transportation of the 75-tonne statue earlier this month caused huge traffic jams and damaged roads and civic amenities in the constituency.
There are JD(S) and Aam Admi Party (AAP) candidates in the fray too, but, in reality, it is a straight fight between George and Reddy. George had trounced his BJP rivals twice with a margin of over 20,000 votes in 2008 and 2013.
BJP supporters, however, are hoping that the arrival of the statue of Hanuman, as Bajrangbali is known, will touch off a saffron wave in the constituency.
“We will not allow George a hat-trick. In addition to people’s support, we have Lord Hanuman’s blessings this time,” said Reddy.
AAP’s Prithvi Reddy, however, has a different take. Citing the backing out of Padmanabha Reddy, the BJP’s first-choice in the segment, from the race, Prithvi says the BJP has already conceded defeat and AAP is the only party to take on George.
“Reddy openly said he lacked the resources to fight George. We too lack resources, but it is all about defeating the George brand of politics,” says Prithvi.
The constituency is sprinkled with more than 400 churches and 500 mosques. Muslims (1.2 lakh) and Christians (45,000) are the biggest components in Sarvagnanagar’s 3.35 lakhstrong electorate.
George says he is not really worried about the Muslim candidate, Anwar Sharief, from JD(S). “People are worried about their safety and livelihood. They are convinced that they are safe with the Congress representing them and will continue to support us irrespective of which community they are from,” he says.
George’s alleged minority appeasement is ammo for BJP candidate Reddy. He is raising issues like huge financial aid granted to Arabic College in Nagavara and a land parcel donated to an Islamic school in Kacharakanahalli in his campaign.
Largely consisting of slums and a few planned layouts like Kalyannagar and HBR Layout, the constituency has a range of problems, including lack of roads, unscientifically built flyovers, scarce drinking water, illdesigned sewage network and unattended garbage heaps.