Republic has learnt that the BJP, in a bid to woo the powerful Vokkaliga community further, plans to nominate a corporator for the post of BBMP mayor in the upcoming polls. Two senior corporators, L Srinivas and KA Munindra Kumar have been shortlisted for the upcoming mayoral polls, sources confirmed. A fortnight ago, the Karnataka government announced ambitious plans for a statue of Kempegowda, commonly believed to be the founder of Bengaluru, along with a museum and Kempegowda Development Authority. The imposing bronze statue of the Vokkaliga icon is to be erected in a one-acre land identified near the airport. BJP insiders have confirmed that after the arrest of DK Shivakumar, the backlash faced by BJP has prompted the decision to appease the community and its electorally significant leaders.
On September 11, over a dozen Vokkaliga associations, joined by the farmers and pro-Kannada groups staged a massive protest in Bengaluru, assailed the BJP for alleged ‘political conspiracy against the Vokkaligas’. To neutralize the perceived damage done, multiple measures will be announced over the next few days by the ruling party. In continuation of the strategy, a delegation of BJP leaders led by deputy chief minister C. N. Ashwath Narayan, met with chief minister BS Yediyurappa and the party-state president Nalin Kumar Kateel two days ago to finalise the list of Vokkaliga councillors in the city and zeroed in on two names. In the last 14 years, BBMP has not elected a Vokkaliga as mayor of Bengaluru city.
Elections for the positions of mayor, deputy mayor and members of 12 standing committees are scheduled for October 1. Since 2015, at the municipal corporation level, the Congress and JDS have together prevented the BJP from electing a mayor despite securing a majority of councillors in the 2015 elections. The Bengaluru mayor and deputy mayor are elected annually. Apart from the 198 corporators, MLAs and MLCs from the city, members of parliament-both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha- can vote in mayoral elections, bringing the final tally of votes to 262. This time, with five MLAs from the city facing disqualification, the total number of votes come down to 257. The BJP has 101 corporators and 34 MLAs, MLCs and MPs, bringing their total to 135, past the halfway mark. The BJP hopes to salvage the damage done with the recent Vokkaliga protests and with a Gowda at the helm of BBMp, hope to also appease some city-based mutts of the community. The attempt to shake off the anti-Vokkaliga image is with an eye on multiplying their electoral returns in southern Karnataka, particularly the Old Mysore region where BJP has a negligible footprint.