This Article is From Apr 18, 2014

In Karnataka, big guns battle it out

Bangalore: All 28 seats in Karnataka voted on Thursday - in a battle that has put pressure on state units of both the BJP and the Congress. And some of the contests, like the one in Bangalore South, have generated a huge amount of interest.

On one side is Nandan Nilekani, Infosys co-founder and former head of the Aadhar unique identity scheme. His opponent, the BJP's Ananth Kumar, has won five times in a row - and is hoping to hit a sixer in Bangalore South. The sitting MP is counting on the voters here - and the Narendra Modi factor - to get him back into Parliament.

Both say they are confident of victory.

Bangalore Central also saw an ex-Infosys man seeking votes - V Balakrishnan of the young Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) up against the big two national parties.

Mr Balakrishnan's performance here would give an indication of the inroads made by AAP in Karnataka. The perception is that they had good support - as shown by enrollments and donations - in urban Bangalore which may have fallen to some extent after the party stepped away from the Delhi government.

Bangalore North sees former BJP chief minister, Sadananda Gowda, hoping he can defeat the Congress candidate, C Narayanaswamy who got the ticket after a primary was held here.

The regional Janata Dal (Secular) is also hoping to hold on to its presence in Parliament - with former Prime Minister, HD Deve Gowda in Hassan - and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in Chikballapur in a tough fight with union minister Veerappa Moily of the Congress.

Shimoga is another interesting seat with the BJP's prodigal son, former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa taking on another former CM's daughter, Geetha Shivarajkumar of the JDS - she is the daughter of S Bangarappa and daughter-in-law of the late matinee idol Dr Rajkumar.

The BJP won 19 out of 28 seats in Karnataka last time - but the Congress is now in power here and the Karnataka unit is hoping to deliver some measure of relief from this state. And while the BJP attacks the Congress on the issue of corruption elsewhere in the country - in Karnataka it is on the back foot with many of its own leaders facing corruption charges.

Karnataka is one state that is being seen largely as a face-off between the BJP and the Congress. The Congress formed the state government less than a year ago - but this state often votes differently in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections - and the BJP here is counting on the possible Modi factor at the national level.

Bangalore South, where the BJP's Ananth Kumar takes on technocrat billionaire Nandan Nilekani is perhaps the most interesting example of this contest in the state.