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Ananth Kumar looks for a fourth win in Bangalore South

April 12, 2004 15:32 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party's Karnataka unit chief H N Ananth Kumar (44) is seeking to win the prestigious Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency for the fourth time in a row in a triangular contest involving a real estate magnate and a heroine of yesteryears.

Observers believe the Congress' candidate, M Krishnappa, nicknamed 'Layout' Krishnappa for his forays into the real estate business, and actress Jayanthi (Janata Dal-Secular) have an uphill task ahead.

The state unit tried hard till the last minute to put up a strong candidate against Kumar.

It lobbied to have party president Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Vadra contest and also wooed popular Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan, but without success.

The ruling party in Karnataka then settled for Krishnappa, a member of the legislative council and a Vokkaliga, the community that accounts for an estimated 40 per cent of the electorate along with Brahmins.

The BJP camp believes the largely middleclass electorate would back the party and the "Atal Bihari 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.

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.

In recent months, the party appears to have closed ranks, seeking to project the image of a cohesive and united front.

The Congress sprang a surprise 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 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 Chamarajpet and the Congress believes it would have a "ripple effect" in other segments.

Krishnappa feels the voters will reward the party for the development work undertaken in the city by the Congress government.

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