Karnataka election 2018: Caste will cast shadow on home of old Bengaluru ‘intellectuals’

BENGALURU: Decades-old ancestral homes tweaked to accommodate the trappings of modernity, temples and street markets keeping alive traditions, and a host of educational institutions to boast of, Basavanagudi was once pegged as the home of intellectuals and elite of old Bengaluru.
Yet, the 2.4 lakh electorate which had once elected former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde on a Janata Party ticket, is unlikely to poll differently, given that politics here seems as immersed in caste as anywhere else.
The dominant Brahmin (about 70,000) and Vokkaliga (68,000) votes are seen to play a major role because of relatively weak candidates from the JD(S) and Congress, who, however, believe that people will deprive BJP’s Ravi Subramanya LA of a hat-trick.
While the Congress has M Boregowda, relatively unknown to the electors, K Bagegowda of the JD(S) was defeated by Subramanya by a margin of 20,000 in 2013. Political observers say the situation would’ve been different had Congress fielded former MP Ramya, as was speculated a few months ago.
The speculation now is about a tacit understanding between the BJP and Congress, though voters know little about it. Both JD(S) and Congress fielding Vokkaliga candidates doesn’t bother Subramanya, who says: “I’m confident that 60% of the Vokkaligas will vote for me. They have trusted me in the past and seen the results.”
An influx of outsiders, Cauvery water pilferage, garbage segregation, pavement encroachments and incomplete civic work becoming pain points notwithstanding, some people, including Subramanya’s naysayers, have positive things to say about him. But Bagegowda says: “People are sick of stagnancy. Regardless of their caste, people want change and believe in the vision of JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, which includes development of Brahmins.”
Congress’ Boregowda, on the other hand, says that besides Vokkaliga and Brahmin votes — which together make up 1.4 lakh — there are more than 1 lakh people who are also looking for change. “While Basavanagudi sees a low turnout because most educated people do not come out to vote, I am confident of bagging 60% of these other votes along with some Vokkaliga votes,” he says.
Whether or not Basavanagudi breaks the caste trend, its standing as a key constituencies will remain intact, just as its tree-lined roads, big bungalows and old-school eateries like Brahmin Bar.