BENGALURU: The candidates of both the BJP and the Congress in the prestigious constituency of Bengaluru South are in a way new faces to voters. While the BJP debutant Tejasvi Surya, 28, was known largely inside the Sangh Parivar circles, Congress leader BK Hariprasad, 64, originally from Malleshwaram, made Delhi his home long ago, keeping himself active in the national politics.
Both have made Prime Minister Narendra Modi the central figure in their electoral campaign: while Surya says voting Modi meant voting for a strong nation, Hariprasad is seeking to build sentiments against Modi. “My fight is against Modi and not the candidate,” Hariprasad told media. Asked why he was not taking the name of his BJP’s rival, he says: “BJP candidates are nominees of Modi. I want to talk to my voters about the disaster Modi has caused to this nation and why they should not vote for him.”
The Bengaluru South constituency — a melting pot of traditional Old Bengaluru and the modern IT and start-up hub — which has been the BJP bastion for the last 28 years, witnessed a few dramatic turns following the death of former union minister Ananth Kumar last November. Kumar was a six time MP of Bengaluru South and had established a strong hold over his constituency. His untimely death six months before the Lok Sabha polls created a leadership vacuum for the BJP in Bengaluru.
Soon, the Karnataka BJP projected Kumar’s wife Tejaswini, who runs a non-profit, as the BJP candidate for Bengaluru South. But in a sudden turn of events, the party leadership announced Surya’s name on the last day of filing nomination. It came as a surprise to many, and caused confusion for sometime in the party.
The Congress party nominating Hariprasad too was no less a surprise as there were rumours of him seeking a ticket from Bengaluru Central or from his native Coastal Karnataka. It was said that Hariprasad was reluctant to contest from Bengaluru South, a constituency that has been a strong forte of the BJP since 1991. In fact, fighting elections in Bengaluru South is not new to Hariprasad. He had contested against Ananth Kumar in 1999 and lost by 70,000 votes.
In recent years, some of the prominent Congress names preferred to keep away from Bengaluru South, not wishing to waste their money and energy in a seat deeply entrenched by Kumar. In fact, in the six elections that Kumar contested, the Congress fielded a new face each time.