Akhanda on a strong wicket here

Bengaluru: If Lutyens Delhi, particularly areas around Parliament, the power hub of the nation, wear a spick and span look most of the time, why not Pulakeshinagar, commonly known as Fraser Town, which houses Vidhana Soudha, the power centre of Karnataka? That must be the question residents of this reserved constituency should be pondering over and more so because it is one of the smallest constituencies in the city needing no Herculean effort to clean it up. 

Like any other city locality, Pulakeshinagar presents a picture of contrasts-there are people living in the slums and congested areas and there are plush apartments and residential complexes with many more coming up. What lends a quaint look to the constituency are British era houses and bungalows which continue to survive till today and are pretty well maintained. For anyone wishing to relive the colonial age and get a whiff of what life was in those times, a walk through the little streets of Frazer Town would suffice. Several decades ago, the area was populated by thousands of Britishers, as the Cantonment was located nearby.

So it’s not surprising that the constituency has a mix of different people-those from the minority communities including a fair sprinkling of Christians besides the majority Hindu population. Over 70,000 people residing in Pulakeshinagar belong to the backward classes, something which politicians know better than anyone else. 

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Akhanda Srinivas Murthy represented the constituency till recently when he resigned from the JD (S) and joined the Congress party along with the other rebel MLAs of Mr Deve Gowda’s party. He is set to contest the coming elections as a Congress candidate unless an upset happens and the ticket is given to someone else. 

Mr Murthy is a popular figure here and has connected with people through the years. He claims he  has been able to address problems without wasting time and is known for resolving any kind of issue by taking personal interest. There are many who feel it will be a walkover for him this time too as the JD (S) has no one to contest on its ticket after his exit while the BJP does not have a strong presence in the constituency. But Murthy is not the one to take things lightly and has already started reaching out to people by assuring them that he will continue to work for their development.

Like other places in Bengaluru, Pulakeshinagar has its share of problems and erratic water supply and clogged drains top the list. Reena Joseph, a resident of Coles Road, said, “We get water twice in a week and the rest of the time, we depend on water from private water tankers. People who have borewells can survive but what about others? Here, the commercial buildings and business establishments are given importance and provided all kinds of facilities but not the common man. It is pathetic that these politicians only visit our area to ask for votes after which they forget that there are humans beings living here.”

Mrs Joseph also pointed out that women are not safe on the streets particularly in the late evening hours. “Every road or street has men standing in groups and trying to make the women and girls feel uncomfortable. This is one of the major problems which has to be addressed on priority There is no proper police patrolling, so these youth assume that they can always get away even if they commit an offence.  The police need to step up their patrolling and take strict action but I don’t think they are too keen on it,” she added.

Marianathan, a caterer residing in Kaval Byarasandra, pointed out that the pavements and footpaths have been encroached upon by hoteliers, especially on Mosque Road and in parts of Frazer Town. “Pedestrians are forced to walk on the streets and are bound to get hit by vehicles, as the youth riding two-wheelers have no traffic sense and ride in a harsh and negligent manner. This problem is out there for every one to see but nothing is being done,” he lamented. There are some who are all praise for Murthy claiming that it was only after he became  MLA that the area started developing and witnessed a drop in illegal activities.  Suresh Mohan Kumar, a resident of DJ Halli and a fabricator said, “He was the one who got us water connections and laid a new drainage system. He is also working to widen several roads to decongest traffic. It is because of him that  several public parks are well maintained now. But to expect him to do everything is a bit too much, he cannot do all the work in five years. If he is given another opportunity, I am sure he will ensure more development.”

Mr Marianathan concurred saying that earlier, the drains were clogged because the slaughter houses located near Tannery Road and in surrounding areas would dump animal waste in the drains. But now, that has been stopped and the area wears a cleaner look.

Akhanda Srinivas Murthy is obviously on a  strong wicket here as there is no resentment brewing against him here for non-performance.  But no politico worth his salt would take any voter for granted for it is when polls approach that pent up frustrations come to the fore and it is always the sitting MLA who is at the receiving end.

For now, Murthy is riding high but there is every chance that the BJP and the JD(S)-which has already vowed to wreck the prospects of the rebels who jumped ship-will not let him sail through without making him sweat it out.  

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Note from Kannada.Club :

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