All 4 LS seats in B’luru among 14 in state to go to polls today | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

All 4 LS seats in B’luru among 14 in state to go to polls today

By, Bengaluru
Apr 26, 2024 08:22 AM IST

14 Lok Sabha constituencies gear up for a crucial showdown as approximately 2.88 crore electors will exercise their democratic right and elect MP

Fourteen Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka gear up for a crucial showdown as approximately 2.88 crore (28.8 million) electors will exercise their democratic right and elect members of Parliament on Friday, according to the Election Commission.

Polling officials leave for election duty on the eve of the second phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Chikkamagaluru, on Thursday. (PTI)
Polling officials leave for election duty on the eve of the second phase of Lok Sabha polls, in Chikkamagaluru, on Thursday. (PTI)

The campaigning that ended on Wednesday witnessed both the Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition and the Congress leaving no stone unturned in their bid to improve upon their respective tallies from the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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For the voters, comprising approximately 1.44 crore (14.4 million) men, 1.43 crore (14.3 million) women, and 3,067 individuals identifying as third gender, the EC has established 30,602 polling booths across the 14 constituencies. More than 1.40 lakh (140,000) polling officers, 5,000 micro observers and 50,000 civil police personnel, along with 65 companies of CRPF and Reserved Armed Forces from other states, have been put on standby to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, the EC stated.

As the state will be voting for the first time in this Lok Sabha elections on Friday, it will be a crucial fight for the JD(S), which is fighting for its political relevance as its ally, BJP, aims to increase its foothold in the south, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the Congress is contesting in all 14 seats, the BJP has fielded nominees in 11 and its alliance partner JD(S), which joined the NDA in three -- Hassan, Mandya and Kolar.

The BJP and JD(S), via their alliance, are leveraging their combined popularity. They are counting on their combined popular votes in the 2023 assembly elections to be bolstered by the promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership at the centre. The Prime Minister, even after two elections remains a key factor in National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) campaign here.

With a track record of outperforming Congress in past elections, the BJP sees Karnataka as a base for increasing its foothold in the south. Securing maximum seats in the initial phase of the elections is also vital for the BJP’s state unit in achieving the ambitious national seat target set by the party.

Meanwhile, the Congress is confident after securing a historic victory in the Karnataka state polls by clinching a record-breaking 135 seats in the Assembly polls. Central to their strategy are the five guarantee schemes, which they believe will unite the women voters in the state in their favour.

Besides, chief minister Siddaramaiah’s hopes of mobilising the AHINDA (a Kannada acronym for Alpasankhyataru or minorities, Hindulidavaru or backward classes, and Dalitaru or Dalits) is expected to play an important role for the grand old party.

The stakes are high for the Congress as it pins its hopes on the upcoming poll outcome to secure political stability within Karnataka and bolster its national presence.

Internally, the polls also mark the subtle power dynamics between chief minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar. For the Karnataka Pradesh Congress committee (KPCC) chief, securing victory in the Bengaluru Rural and Mandya constituencies is paramount, as it serves as a stepping stone towards his aspirations for the CM’s post and the next stalwart of the Vokkaliga community, the second largest voter bank in the state. Both leaders have waged aggressive campaigns, emphasising their respective agendas. The poll outcome will serve as a litmus test, determining the extent of public support for these agendas and ultimately shaping the political equations between the two leaders.

For former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, this contest represents political survival. The stakes are particularly high in Mandya and the other two constituencies (Kolar and Hassan), as victory here is crucial to reclaiming its erstwhile stronghold over the Vokkaliga belt in the Old Myuru region. This region, traditionally considered a bastion of JD(S) support, witnessed a shift in allegiance to the Congress under the leadership of Shivakumar in recent years.

On Monday, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said: “My political future is in the hands of Mandya voters. It is God’s decision that made me contest Lok Sabha. I am contesting to protect the people of this district and my party.”

Kumaraswamy, representing Mandya, along with noted cardiologist CN Manjunath from Bangalore Rural (BJP) and Mysuru royal family scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar from Mysuru (BJP), are set to lead the electoral contest.

The presence of Shivakumar’s brother and MP DK Suresh (Congress) from Bangalore Rural adds another layer of intrigue to the election.

In Bengaluru South, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya is poised to face off against minister Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter and Congress leader Sowmya Reddy. Meanwhile, Union minister Shobha Karandlaje, representing the BJP, will lock horns with former IIM Bangalore professor MV Rajeev Gowda (Congress) in Bangalore North.

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