Cong up against Cong rebel in Bengaluru’s violence-prone Pulakeshi Nagar
The bitter memories of large-scale violence and rioting in 2020 are still haunting the people of Pulikeshi Nagar Assembly constituency in Bengaluru. The incident known as ‘2020 Bengaluru riots’ or ‘D J Halli – K J Halli violence’ and the political developments surrounding it continue to play an important role in the 2023 Assembly elections.
Bengaluru: The bitter memories of large-scale violence and rioting in 2020 are still haunting the people of Pulikeshi Nagar Assembly constituency in Bengaluru. The incident known as ‘2020 Bengaluru riots’ or ‘D J Halli – K J Halli violence’ and the political developments surrounding it continue to play an important role in the 2023 Assembly elections.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Congress denied a ticket to sitting MLA Akhanda Srinivasmurthy from the constituency. He rebelled and is contesting as a BSP candidate from this constituency. The JD(S) has fielded Anuradha, and A.C. Srinivasa is the Congress candidate. BJP has made Murali as its contestant.
There is a straight fight between the Congress and BSP in the constituency. Akhanda Srinivasmurthy as the Congress candidate had garnered 97,574 votes and 77 per cent of vote share in the 2018 Assembly elections. He had a lead of 81,626 votes, one of the biggest in the state, from its closest opponent. His nearest rival, B. Prasannakumar of the JD(S) had managed to get 15,948 votes and BJP candidate, Susheela Devaraj had lost her deposit with 9,479 votes polled in her favour.
Following the posting of an objectionable post on social media against Islam by the nephew of MLA Akhanda Srinivasmurthy, on the night of August 11, 2020 and August 12, violent crowds gathered outside his residence. Large mob gathered outside the D J Halli and K J Halli police stations and protested.
Soon the protests turned violent with mob vandalizing and burning down the MLA’s residence. The mob insisted that the accused should be handed over to them and when police refused the mob indulged in rioting. They torched D J Halli police station. Three persons were killed in police firing and more than 50 policemen were injured.
However, the probe revealed that the anti-national elements exploited the local political infighting. More than 100 persons were arrested. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was handling the Home ministry then.
In a strange turn of events, the Congress distanced itself from the sitting MLA, Akhanda Srinivasmurthy.
After leaving the Congress, Srinivasmurthy opened a new BSP office in the constituency. Talking to IANS, he stated that he is a localite and born and brought up in the constituency. He had taken up the developmental work for 10 years as a legislator and he has the support of people.
“The Congress party has betrayed him by not allotting the ticket. People have forced me to contest elections. I will get more lead than the last elections and win the elections,” he stated.
B.S. Yashas, BJP spokesperson while talking to IANS maintained that the Congress did not save its Dalit leader for its appeasement politics. The candidate, who was the victim of violence, is contesting as a candidate from the BSP. “The BJP party is finding its roots in the constituency,” he said.
The Muslims have 1,24,771 votes, (53.5 per cent), 80,000 (36 per cent) SC, ST and OBC voters. There are 2,33,236 voters in the constituency. The seat is reserved for the SC candidate. Though it is located very close to Bengaluru Central district, the constituency lacks in infrastructure and facilities. It is to be seen who bags the seat in a tight contest.