Bangalore, Apr 12 UNI | 3 months ago

The atmosphere ahead of the April 17 Lok Sabha elections is heating up, as Bangalore South emerges as the most watched segment with Infosys co-founder-turned-Congress candidate Nandan Nilekani making headway to bridge whatever gap exists in the battle royale with BJP General Secretary HN Ananth Kumar.

Mr Nilekani, the richest politician contesting in the 2014 poll with an asset base of Rs 7700 crore co-owned with his wife, has now got the grips on what looks like a stirring two-horse race.

The electoral fray is also witnessing two other interesting women candidates- Ramon Magsaysay award winner Ruth Manorama from Janata Dal(S) and child rights activist Nina P Nayak of AAP.

But the duo are not expected to make a big impact on the final outcome.

Mr Nikelani, former UIDAI Chief, who took up the challenge of issuing identity numbers to 1.3 billion Indians, now looks more rounded like a politician and has learnt the nuances of how to impress voters.

The 58-year-old has been doing rounds across the length and breadth of the segment, mainly including office going public in the tech-hub.

''I want to herald a change and prove that new entrants in politics, having a feeling in the heart to serve people, will be victorious.

''This is Bangalore and we need to trigger major changes in the Indian political system from here. So, let me start the trend,'' Mr Nilekani said.

Famously, Mr Nilekani had advocated the Indian IT leaders to break the 'glass ceiling' to emerge as winners in the

Global IT scenario and boost India to be the most sought after IT destination in the world.

Mr Kumar is equally confident of winning the seat for a record sixth time.

''I have worked for the people of the segment during my five terms and getting elected so many times itself proves my usefulness for the people at local levels,'' he said.

Mr Nilekani, however, differs and firmly believes that people are looking for a change.

''Congress has impressed the people and a strong wind for a change is blowing across my segment. I belong to Bangalore South and people will embrace me,'' he said confidently.

The billionaire Congress leader said the nature of his opponent, a heavyweight BJP leader, does not matter any more.

''Now the battle is between two people who are equal in strength in terms of whatever a fight for a Lok Sabha segment in a prestigious seat has to be,'' Mr Nilekani explained.

The eight Assembly segments coming under the Lok Sabha seat range from posh pockets in BTM Layout, Jayanagar, Vijayanagar to industrial hub of Bommanahalli to business hub of Chikpet. It also has teeming Govindarajnagar.

With a total electorate of over 22 lakh voters, caste factors will also count. But, however, it is going to be a battle among two Brahmins -- Mr Nilekani and Mr Kumar.

True to its cosmopolitan nature, the constituency has considerable share of Brahmin, Vokkaliga and Muslim voters and a mix of upper and middle class voters.

Mr Kumar, however, expressed confidence that the predominant middle class populace in the segment was firmly with him and they always favour BJP.

Barring the 1989 Parliamentary polls, Congress has been kept at bay in this segment by BJP for nearly three decades.

Congress observers, however, said that Mr Kumar was surviving on thin ice since the last two polls when the margin had fallen drastically to 37,000 in 2009.

Currently, Congress and BJP share eight Assembly seats coming under Bangalore South.

The two leaders have been most active in campaigning at diverse localities coming under the segment that include posh areas like JP Nagar, upper middle class Jayanagar and teeming localities and even slums.

They have received a boost from their top leaders that include party's PM nominee Narendra Modi addressing a speech at National College grounds recently for Mr Kumar and AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi campaigning for Mr Nilekani.

The two leaders also vied for support from an array of personalities with Mr Nilekani roping in Jnanapith winners UR Ananthamurty and Girish Karnad that provided a major boost for the IT leader, while Mr Kumar has been similarly active in bringing people from different areas.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)