With the Karnataka Assembly elections 2023 just days away, South First is bringing you ground reports from key constituencies. This series brings you voices from the ground, the mood of the voters, and issues that matter — as well as those that don’t — as people make up their minds on who they will elect in the upcoming Assembly elections.
A sudden sinking feeling made a woman get butterflies as she stepped on to the footpath from a two-wheeler at Kadugodi on the Hoskote Main Road around 4 pm on 17 April.
The woman, riding pillion, did not notice the gaping hole between the slabs covering a drain, and her right leg went through it, bringing her down on one knee on the bustling commercial stretch.
A group of men, including the bike rider, rushed in and helped the woman back on her feet. She was fortunate to escape without injuries but was left on the sidewalk in bewildered embarrassment with her right leg covered in thick, black slime, and missing footwear.
A roadside tea vendor brought her some water to clean herself up, and with a stick, found her sandal that had fallen into the drain.
The woman thanked the vendor and hurried away, while the man returned to his business.
Though not literally, that sinking feeling — of being left alone and ignored — has gripped the electorate in the Mahadevapura Assembly constituency, represented by BJP leader and four-time minister Aravind Limbavali.
Neglected and ignored
“This is the state of the footpaths in Kadugodi,” he said, referring to the woman’s plight.
Pointing at a kutcha road, he said the residents have been repeatedly requesting the local leaders and the assistant engineer to asphalt the road connecting the Hoskote Road to an hobli (village).
“They ignored the requests,” he said.
Narayana Swamy, another voter in the constituency, concurred with the tea seller.
“MLA Limbavali has his priorities. He has done some work in select areas, but ignored several other areas in his constituency — like this one (Kadugodi),” he said.
Swamy, however, added that any candidate the saffron party fields will win Mahadevpura since it is a “BJP seat”.
Several others expressed hope that the educated youth would think and act differently on 10 May when Karnataka votes to elect the next Assembly.
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A significant number of voters South First spoke to felt an anti-incumbency factor was in play. Limbavali, a three-time MLA, is not in the fray but is seeking the mandate for his wife Manjula Aravind Limbavali this time.
Limbavali’s name did not figure in the BJP’s first two lists of candidates, cementing the voters’ belief in the anti-incumbency factor.
They also pointed at the abrupt folding up of Mahadevapura Task Force-Mobility — a collective Limbavali had founded.
The collective’s agenda was to focus more on bettering the roads, traffic management, sustainable mobility, and metro and suburban rail.
On 15 April, the group announced with a “very heavy heart” on its Twitter handle that it is suspending all its activities.
The message, many felt, reflected the anti-incumbency feeling in the constituency.
Namaskara Mahadevapura: MTF PAUSED from TODAY
With a very heavy heart, we are PAUSING all activities undertaken by MTF under the Chairmanship and able leadership of our MLA Shri Aravind Limbavali
Thanks for all the support, encouragement and tough messages
— Mahadevapura Task Force-Mobility (@MTF_Mobility) April 15, 2023
Lalitha works in a local dairy cooperative at Kadugodi. She is one among those who belong to the “BJP belt”, which Narayana Swamy mentioned earlier.
“We all are supporters of the BJP and will vote for whoever the party fields in Mahadevapura,” she told South First.
She opined that Limbavali had taken up several development works. “We will vote for any candidate the BJP fields,” Lalitha said.
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Resentment among pro-BJP voters
Murali, living near the Sheelavanthakere Lake in Whitefield, was of the firm belief that Limbavali would not be fielded this time.
“When Limbavali’s name did not figure in the first two lists, we thought the BJP high command has made the right decision,” he said.
However, Murali was surprised when the party nominated the MLA’s wife, Manjula, as the candidate in Mahadevapura.
“She is a homemaker with no political experience. How can the high command field her? There was a trend earlier among BBMP corporators/councillors to make their wives contest the elections and rule the wards in a proxy manner,” he pointed out.
“By fielding Limbavali’s wife the BJP has upgraded the trend from corporators to MLAs. I am not a fan of this proxy trend, and, this time, BJP could lose many votes due to its decision to field Manjula,” Murali added.
Interestingly, the BJP has been projecting an anti-dynasty political system in the country.
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Active civic groups
Mahadevapura has several voters from outside the constituency and the state. An IT hub, the segment is home to many techies.
Vishnu, a resident of Mahadevapura, told South First that the educated crowd would either vote for Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He too “confirmed” the anti-incumbency wave.
“Though Mahadevapura is a BJP stronghold, this time it would be tougher for the party as a lot of votes would sway either in favour of the Congress or AAP,” he said.
“I see a lot of resentment due to corruption and mainly for not involving citizen activist groups or stakeholders in the decision-making process,” he added.
He singled out one particular instance which could go against Limbavali’s interests. An AAP member protested against the encroachment of a lake and Limbavali ensured that he was booked in an attempt to murder case.
“When people come to know of MLA’s such actions, they normally would withdraw their support,” Vishnu added.
Citizen activism in the Mahadevapura constituency is well-known in the metropolis. From Whitefield Rising to Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA) to the Bengaluru Apartment Federation (BAF) — all vocal when it comes to civic amenities and other issues such as challenges dogging mobility, etc.
All these organisations are mostly apolitical and are happy to welcome an MLA who would bat for the constituency.
Million Voter Rising, an umbrella group of several civic groups in Mahadevapura, has even released a manifesto for the future MLA.
All these organisations together attempted to organise a Town Hall with all political and independent aspirants. However, authorities denied them permission citing the Model Code of Conduct in force in the state.
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A flood of woes
A Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC)-sponsored Bengaluru Citizen Perception Survey in 2022 found Mahadevapura — despite being a high tax-paying zone — lacked civic amenities, adequate mobility, and other infrastructure
The survey carried out between February and June 2022 — sometime before the recent floods — found around 56 percent of the respondents were dissatisfied.
The study with a sample size of around 8,400 citizens in BBMP’s eight zones revealed only 14 percent were satisfied and 30 percent were somewhat satisfied.
Stretches of the IT corridor in Bellandur and Mahadevapura were inundated in the heavy rains, and citizen activist groups pulled up the BBMP officials and MLA Limbavali.
They alleged that rampant encroachment of rajakaluves (giant stormwater drains) connecting lakes by builders in connivance with government officials led to the flooding.
The Mahadevapura Assembly constituency is in the Bengaluru Urban district and comes under the Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha constituency.
According to the 2011 Census, out of the total population of 5,34,583 in the Mahadevapura constituency, 17.67 percent are in rural areas and 82.33 percent are in urban localities.
At present, the population is said to be around 6.5 lakh with around 5.5 lakh voters.
According to the 2019 electoral rolls, the constituency had 5,24,713 voters. The voter turnout was 55.37 percent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, whereas it was 56.34 percent in the 2018 Assembly elections.
In 2018, the BJP’s vote share was 49.83 percent, while the Congress and the JD(S) bagged 43.57 and 2.25 percent, respectively.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidate PC Mohan defeated Rizwan Arshad of the Congress in Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha (MP) by a margin of 70,968 votes.
Limbavali won the Assembly seat by defeating AC Srinivasa of the Congress by a margin of 17,784 votes.
The Mahadevapura constituency consists of eight wards: Hoodi, Garudacharpalya, Kadugodi, Hagadooru, Dodda Nekkundi, Marthahalli, Varthur, and Bellandur.
The constituency houses several IT companies such as Accenture, Dell, EMC, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Mphasis, Samsung, Sapient Corporation, eClinicalWorks, Wells Fargo, etc.
It has been alleged that Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust had collected the personal information of voters in Mahadevapura also. The constituency’s Electoral Registration Office Chandrasekhar K was among those suspended in connection with the alleged data theft scam.