Published on Apr 16, 2004 04:40 PM IST

Having achieved a hattrick in the prestigeous Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, BJP's Karnataka unit chief H N Ananth Kumar is seeking to make it four times in a row.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India

Having achieved a hattrick in the prestigeous Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, BJP's Karnataka unit chief H N Ananth Kumar is seeking to make it four times in a row in a triangular contest involving a city real estate magnate and a heroine of yesteryear.

Observers believe Congress' candidate M Krishnappa, who is nicknamed as "Layout" Krishnappa for his commercial forays into the lucrative real estate business, and "glamour lady" Jayanthi (JD-S) have an uphill task to match upto 44-year-old Kumar.

The Congress tried hard till the last minute to put up a "strong candidate" against Kumar and the party even lobbied to have Priyanka Vadra to contest from here and also wooed popular Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan but without success.

The ruling party in Karnataka then settled for a "resourceful" Krishnappa, a member of the Legislative Council and a Vokkaliga, the community which accounts for an estimated 40 per cent of the electorate along with Brahmins.

The BJP camp believes the largely-middle-class electorate would back the party and the "Vajpayee factor" would be pronounced in a constituency having a high number of literate population.

A former Union Minister, Kumar was drafted for party work in Karnataka months before the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls to boost its prospects at the hustings, and has been attempting to galvanise the outfit vying to come to power in the state.

The mantle of state leadership fell on Kumar at a time when the party's morale was low and the outfit looked nowhere near posing a serious challenge to the Congress beset as it was with internal dissensions and desertion by some of its legislators.

In recent months, the party appears to have closed ranks, seeking to project the image of a cohesive and united front, in pursuit of installing the first saffron government in the South.

The Congress sprang a surpise by fielding Krishnappa and refused to oblige another claimant B K Hariprasad, who had lost to Kumar in the 1999 elections by a margin of more than 66,000 votes.

Muslims, Christians and Scheduled Castes are estimated to form around 30 per cent of the total electorate, numbering around 15.5 lakh. The constituency comprises eight assembly segments. Malleshwaram, Gandhinagar, Binnypet, Chamarajpet and Jayanagar are held by the Congress, and Rajajinagar, Chickpet and Basavanagudi by the BJP.

Chief Minister S M Krishna is contesting from Chamarjpet and the Congress believes it would have a "ripple effect" in other segments of the city.

Krishnappa feels the voters would reward the party for the development work undertaken in the city by the Congress Government. Moreover, he says the Congress corporators would throw in their lot with him.

JD-S of former Prime Minister H D Devegowda is not expected to finish in the 1-2 slot, observers say.

For Jayanthi, it's her third attempt at the electoral battle.

Contesting as a candidate of Ramakrishna Hegde's Lok Shakti, she lost the Lok Sabha election in Chikkaballapur in 1998 and a year later was also not successful in Koratagere Assembly segment as a JD-U nominee.

But the entry of film personalities in assembly segments coming under the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency has certainly added "colour" and "entertainment" to the whole scenario.

Be it Ananth Nag (JD-S) and "Mukhyamantri" Chandru (BJP) in Chamarajpet or Jayanthi, the electorate seem to be enjoying every bit of it but it cannot be said for sure if they would be victors in "real screen" so to say.

Since the post emergency year from 1977, Bangalore South had largely remained an opposition strong-hold except in 1989 when the Congress wrested the seat with the former Chief Minister R Gundu Rao emerging victorious.

Non-Congress candidates have won since 1977. K S Hegde in that year, T R Shamanna (1980) and V S Krishna Iyer (1984) as Janata Party candidates and Venkatagiri Gowda (1991) and Ananth Kumar (in 1996, 1998 and 1999) from BJP.

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