Clash of the political titans: Influential families wage battle in Bangalore rural constituency

12:44 PM Apr 22, 2024 | PTI |

Political temperatures are running high in the Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha segment, which is witness to a bitter and close contest between members of two influential Vokkaliga-caste families, who enjoy immense clout here and in the entire old Mysuru region.


The constituency was created in 2008 after delimitation and is spread over the districts of Ramanagara, Bengaluru Urban and Tumakuru in south Karnataka. It has a mix of the rural and urban, with IT parks and industrial townships as well as farm fields. The Vokkaliga caste dominated constituency is witnessing a fierce fight between Congress MP D K Suresh, who is the brother of Deputy Chief Minister and party’s state President D K Shivakumar, and eminent cardiologist Dr C N Manjunath, the son-in-law of JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.

Interestingly, Manjunath is the JD(S) state chief but is contesting on a BJP ticket, as per the arrangement between the alliance partners.

Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy represent Kanakapura and Channapatna Assembly segments respectively, both of which are part of Bangalore Rural. This high profile constituency has thus emerged as the most prestigious segment in the state in the upcoming polls.

Bangalore Rural is the only constituency in Karnataka where the Congress won in the 2019 general elections. Repeating a win in 2024 on home turf is crucial for Shivakumar to boost his chief ministerial prospects, political analysts say.


Both Shivakumar and the Gowda family are bitter political opponents and have fought each other for political dominance in the region. Gowda had won the Kanakapura Lok Sabha seat, defeating Shivakumar in the 2002 by-polls, but lost in 2004. His son Kumaraswamy had won the seat in 1996, but lost in 1998 and 1999. He later won the segment after it became Bangalore Rural in 2009.

Suresh has been representing Bangalore Rural since 2013. In the 2013 by-poll he had defeated Kumaraswamy’s wife Anitha.

The upcoming contest is also seen as a battle between ”a local and an outsider”, as Manjunath and the Gowda family originally hail from Hassan district, as also a fight between two contrasting personalities.

Manjunath, known for his mild manners and humility, headed the state-owned Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research for 17 years before retiring in January this year.

He is a political greenhorn, being seen as an ”underdog” challenging the established political might of the D K brothers.

Suresh, a three time MP, is considered to be the political backbone and key strategist of his brother Shivakumar, with his strong grassroots level network in the region.

According to local Congress leaders, the party is confident about his win, with the minority community votes consolidating in its favour along with a major chunk of Dalit and OBC votes. ”The fight will now be as to who will get the larger share of Vokkaliga votes,” a leader said. Suresh said, ”Voters, especially women are supporting, because of our guarantee schemes. I’m asking ‘kooli’ (wages) for work I have done, I have raised my voice for Karnataka. Coming from Hassan, people are seeking votes here. I’m from here, people will decide.” With Suresh’s own clout and his brother Shivakumar being the Vokkaliga face of the Congress as Deputy Chief Minister, he may seem stronger on paper, but the BJP-JD(S) alliance, and Dr Manjunath’s candidature have posed a formidable challenge for him, a local BJP leader said.

Manjunath has a lot of goodwill among the people and many don’t see him as an outsider. This is mainly because many families have been treated at Jayadeva, which he not only transformed into a premier cardiac institute but also touched the lives of countless patients, especially the poor, he said. He is also banking on the Modi wave, Gowda and Kumaraswamy’s goodwill among voters, the leader added. ”BJP-JD(S) are working together, there is a positive response, I’m confident of a win. People want change, they will respond to criticisms against me,” Manjunath said.

While efforts are on by local workers to project Manjunath as the future Health Minister at the Centre, BJP is also raking up Suresh’s ”separate nation” for southern states remark, to target him during the campaign. Congress on its part is targeting Gowda and his son for fielding son-in-law from BJP.

Out of the eight assembly segments under Bangalore Rural, five are held by Congress, two by BJP and one by JD(S).

Political observers point out that three assembly segments held by BJP and JD(S) account for more than 50 per cent of the total voters of Bangalore Rural. Two of them are in the Bengaluru city limits and pooling of their votes would spell trouble for Congress.

However, pointing out that Suresh was the only Congress MP to win in 2019, despite the ”Modi wave”, they said ”D K brothers” will put in everything to win the seat, as they are aware that any upset here may be used by Shivakumar’s political detractors to prevent him from becoming the Chief Minister.

There is a fight this time because BJP-JD(S) has fielded Dr Manjunath, a farmer in Channapatna’s Dodda Mallur said, ”Suresh is a local boy, he is hard worker and accessible. Doctor is not from here, will he be accessible?” ”Suresh is said to be a good worker, works are still pending. Our vote is for the Doctor, Modi, development and not for the Congress as it divides and rules, its stands are anti-Hindu,” a voter in Magadi said.


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