Bengaluru North was meant to be contested by the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) under the seat sharing arrangement with coalition partner, the Congress. There was speculation that the ticket would go to former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. When he chose Tumakuru instead, the JDS decided to hand the ticket over to the Congress. The Congress decided that state minister Krishna Byre Gowda should stand. He is up against Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister and former Chief Minister who is the sitting parliamentarian.
Sadananda Gowda believes that the appeal of Prime Minister Modi will help him return to parliament. He told NDTV on the campaign trail: "I am more confident than in 2014. Modi's image has gone up like anything. And his performance has been accepted by the people of the constituency."
The sitting parliamentarian claimed that he is closely associated with the people of his constituency. "The work I have done - passport office, Kendriya Vidyalaya at Yeshwantpur, drinking water, sanitation, railway underpass and overbridges... I have worked very hard and I have been the link between the state and the centre in getting funds from the centre to the state. Suburban railway, Metro second stage... all these issues have been taken up by me. People believe Sadananda Gowda should be given one more opportunity. And Modi's image, each and every voter says Modi should be the Prime Minister again," he said.
This view was contested by Krishna Byre Gowda. "(Sadananda Gowda) has not been representing the constituency. Hence, I am hopeful the result will change. You can't fool all the people all the time. He has never kept in touch with people, and coming back at the time of the elections, showing a facade and saying vote for the facade is not going to work. People want a real-time active representative. India does not have a presidential form of government. If you are asking for votes in the name of a person, then you should make him the candidate in every constituency. Why have a proxy at all?" he said.
The Congress leader admitted that he was a last-minute choice, but said he was ready to move from state politics to a national playing field to further his political growth. "I am a member of the legislative assembly, a minister also. So I wasn't preparing to contest. But workers and leaders from both the parties insisted that I contest. Bangalore North was in the JDS basket for only one reason, so the former prime minister could contest from Bangalore North. So it was not per se a seat allocation. It was more a consensual decision by the parties that he would be the candidate. When he decided on Tumakuru, he not only proposed Congress but also suggested my name as the candidate," he added.
Sadananda Gowda dismissed the challenge from the coalition. "I don't think there is any challenge from my opponent. He is restricted to one Vidhana Sabha constituency. This last five years, I toured across my constituency. I was available for my constituents from six in the morning whenever I was here in Bangalore. The opponent has no close association with voters of this constituency," he said.
Krishna Byre Gowda said jobs were an issue in the constituency. "There is a predominant working class demographic in this constituency. They are migrants from neighbouring districts. They belong to the aspirational segment of society. What they want are job opportunities and they have been far too scarce in the last five years. At my level, it is the issue that's finding relevance. Jobs have shrunk. That is an issue that I will try to address. We can't fool people by bringing in emotional issues anymore."
Bengaluru North votes on April 18.
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