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Delimitation has Karnataka netas sweating

Vicky Nanjappa | May 03, 2008

Candidates canvassing at Hebbal consitutency in BangaloreFighting an election has always been a challenge for netas, but the forthcoming one in Karnataka is a different ball game altogether, thanks to delimitation.

For example, the Hebbal constituency in Bangalore has been carved out of the Yelahanka and Jayamahal constituencies, following the delimitation process this year.

The constituency, with 2.8 lakh voters, is considered to be the next IT destination of Bangalore. Hebbal is also the starting point of the Devanhalli international airport, which is yet to take off.

Fighting the elections in a brand new constituency is not easy, Congress candidate H M Revanna told "It is a new constituency for me, the voters are not familiar, and hence it takes five times more effort, compared to the earlier elections."

It appears to be a fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in this constituency, as their candidates have been ministers in the past and are more popular than the others in the fray, including Lokesh Gowda from the Janata Dal - Secular and Mallikarjuna Bommai, an independent candidate.

The guidelines of the Election Commission of India are not helping matters. "No banners, buntings and flags are allowed. We are supposed to woo the voter without the regular publicity that we used to have during the earlier polls," said Revanna.

On one occasion, he recalls, the EC officials confiscated the party workers' caps, which had the party symbol on them. "The rest of the day we campaigned under the hot sun," Revanna rued.

Revanna's main rival is Katta Subramanya Naidu from the BJP, who has had won effortlessly in the previous elections, from the Shivajinagar constituency.

"We have to go door to door and canvass. It is an entirely new process for us. At each house, we have to introduce ourselves. We do not have the benefit of life-size cut outs or banners this time. The voters don't even know us," he says.

So both leaders brave the scorching heat, knock on each door and introduce themselves to their new voters. They then explain their plans to improve the constituency, if the voter has the patience and time to hear them out.

"It is a tedious process. The entire day, we are involved in padyatras. This is the only way we can grab the voter's attention. Most of the campaigning is done early in the morning or after 5 pm. The heat is unbearable and canvassing during the afternoons is impossible," says Naidu.

In the afternoons, the netas prefer to rest at a nearby hotel, along with their side kicks. During lunch, they discuss the various election strategies.

Naidu says that most people they meet, during door-to-door canvassing, are friendly. In middle-class houses, they are welcomed with juice or cold water.

"Most of the time, we crib and curse our leaders. But this time, I feel sad looking at their plight, as they get sweaty and tanned in the sun. So I offere a glass of cold juice to the leader and his supporters," said Nalini, a resident of JC Nagar in Hebbal.

The Hebbal constituency will be a prize catch for any party, as it is also being touted as the next real estate hub in Bangalore. Cost of real estate is soaring in Sanajaynagar, Anandnagar, Ganganagar, Dollar colony, Judges colony and R T Nagar.

During the elections, it is the minority population of  40,000 voters and the 20,000 odd Kuruba community, which will decide the winner. Revanna claims that he will win, as he belongs to the Kuruba community. The minorities, including the Muslim and Christian communities, have traditionally voted for the Congress.

Speaking of delimitation, Revanna says that the Congress will be at an advantage as it is the oldest party and people are most familiar with it. However, Naidu claims that he has the upper hand as he was very popular in his earlier constituency and the entire city is aware of that.

Image: Candidates canvassing at Hebbal consitutency in Bangalore

Photograph: KPN Photos

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