Gowda seeks re-election from Kanakapura
Kanakapura, the second largest parliamentary constituency in the country with an electorate of 25.80 lakh, has hogged the limelight again as former prime minister H D Deve Gowda seeks re-election in a keenly contested battle.
Like Chikamagalur Lok Sabha seat, which gave political re-birth to late Indira Gandhi during 1979, Kanakapura also helped Deve Gowda emerge out of political hibernation in the 2002 by-election.
Gowda had lost to Congress's G Puttaswamy Gowda, his one time loyalist-turned-political-foe, in his home district Hassan by a margin of 1.41 lakh in 1999.
But, in the by-poll held to fill up the vacancy caused by the death of former union minister M V Chandrashekhara Murthy (Cong) in Kanakapura, he trounced his another political arch rival and state minister D K Shivkumar in 2002.
The sympathy wave that prevailed in favour of Gowda, who was pushed to the background in the aftermath of the 1999 poll reverse in Hassan, virtually aided his victory in the bypoll as his JD(S) failed to win any assembly segments coming under the constituency in the assembly elections.
While BJP holds two assembly constituencies of Uttarahalli and Anekal, ruling Congress weilds influence in Stahnpur, Ramanagaram, Magadi, Chennapatna and JD(U) in Kanakapura and Malavalli.
Interestingly, the unified fight put up by the Janata parivar parties was another factor that helped Gowda's return to Parliament and his victory billed as a catalyst for merger of the splinter factions, but it has only remained a mirage.
The constituency had remained a traditional bastion of Congress as Chandrashekara Murthy triumped six times. BJP won it in 1998 and Gowda in 2002.
Gowda who had been sending signals that he would return to his home constituency Hassan honouring mounting pressure from people, chose to seek re-election from Kanakapura, besides testing his luck from Hassan.
The BJP has fielded its senior leader Ramachandre Gowda, an MLC, to take on the former premier and is making all out efforts to regain the constituency.
The constituency has about 35 per cent Vokkaliga community voters, to which all the candidates belong, while SCs and STs account for 20 per cent and others including Lingayats about 10 per cent each.
Gowda says "the people of Kanakapura have given me political rebirth. I can't forget their help".
On why he was seeking re-election from Kanakapura apart from Hassan and if the decision stemmed from uncertainty, he dismisses it saying "I don't want to treat my electorate lightly".
Ramachandre Gowda is equally confident of coasting to victory this time on the ground that the Vajpayee factor would ensure it.
Tejaswani, a T V journalist who is making her political debut from this election, says, "I hail from Bangalore rural district (Doddaballapur). I am aware of the problems of the constituency and its people. The voters would certainly elect me".
Kanakapura constituency is a mix of urban and rural areas and comprised eight assembly segments of Uttarahalli (this alone accounts for over 18 lakh voters), Anekal in Bangalore Urban District, Kanakapura, Sathanur, Chennapatna, Ramanagaram (Bangalore Rural district) and Malavalli in Mandya district.
But, for Gowda, who won on a sympathy wave in the last high-voltage polls, there is an additional factor to contend with as he is contesting from Hassan also. To what extent this will impact the voters may be an influencing factor in deciding his fortune.