Former Karnataka ’super cop’ reaches out to voters in style

April 21st, 2009 - 11:08 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, April 21 (IANS) Congress candidate H.T. Sangliana, a former “super cop” of Karnataka, says electioneering in the prestigious Bangalore Central parliamentary constituency is like a dream unfolding as the April 23 polling day nears.

Sangliana was elected to the 14th Lok Sabha on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from the adjacent Bangalore North constituency after defeating Congress veteran and former Union minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

This time, after switching parties, the 66-year-old former city police commissioner is contesting from Bangalore Central, which includes some of the areas of his previous constituency post-delimitation. He has been on the move over the last fortnight to reach out to as many of the 1.9 million voters as possible.

“It’s been a dream life. Over the last two weeks, I’ve lost count of the people I met while canvassing door-to-door and campaigning in several localities across the eight assembly segments of this huge constituency,” Sangliana told IANS while on the campaign trail in Gandhinagar.

Though Sangliana’s nomination from the much-sought-after constituency was late in coming, he lost no time in plunging headlong into hectic campaigning that begins early in the day and drags on till midnight.

Typically, he gets cracking at 7 a.m. for the campaign grind after a quick shower and breakfast in his modest sixth floor flat at the National Games Village in upscale Koramangala suburb.

By the time Sangliana sets out in a Honda CRV, with six gun-toting commandos providing him Z plus security cover in an escort jeep, he is swarmed by hordes of party cadres and local leaders to chalk out the day’s campaign route and the schedule for meetings in designated localities.

“I am 100 percent confident of winning. I have felt the pulse of the people as they greet and exchange views with me. The voters are educated and well-informed. They know I am a performer,” he said.

Unlike other candidates in the city, family members do not accompany Sangliana for electioneering.

While his wife Rovi keeps busy with household chores, three of their four daughters - Elizabeth, Sarah and Rebecca - are settled in Agartala, Mumbai and Boston.

Rachael, who lives separately in Bangalore, is the one who helps him in campaigning.

“All my daughters call me every day to enquire about my campaign and give me valuable suggestions,” beams Sangliana, sporting sunglasses and looking flamboyant in his usual safari suit.

As he enters Gandhinagar, a densely populated residential-cum-commercial area, shouts of “Sangliana zindabad” rent the air. Hordes of party workers and supporters converge at a local temple to welcome him with a burst of crackers, beating of drums, sloganeering and strings of garlands.

After praying at the temple, a heavily garlanded Sangliana steps out and climbs a white open van with Gandhinagar Congress legislator Dinesh Gundu Rao for a quick round of the locality.

With a ban on the use of election paraphernalia and loud speakers for campaigning, Sangliana depends on his popularity in the constituency to draw people’s attention and appeals for their votes with a broad smile, waving hands and delivering a short address on what he would do for them if elected.

Introducing him to a small gathering at a street corner, one of his supporters makes an impromptu speech using a mike and shouts “vote for Sangliana, vote for Sonia and vote for Congress to bring about a change in society”.

“Sangliana will definitely win. He is known for his good work both as a policeman and as a parliamentarian. I will vote for him,” said septuagenarian Mahesh Babu, a retired official, who stepped out of his house to greet the Congress leader.

“As a police officer he was a hero and did a commendable job. He is equally good as a politician now. He should win,” said B. Mandakini, 55.

Asked if his “super cop” image would help him garner votes, Sangaliana said he did not become overnight what people think of him.

“People call me a super cop because I introduced several measures for their benefit as a policeman. I was tough with criminals. I have no problem if people identify me as a super cop as long as I get their love and trust,” he said.

Sangliana is locked in a triangular contest with P.C. Mohan of the BJP and B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

“If elected, I will improve electricity and water supply, repair roads and the drainage system. I will prevent moral policing,” Sangliana claimed, drawing a round of applause from his audience.

“I have always believed in good work to be part of public life. I want to spend the rest of my life working for the people,” he asserted.

After a few rounds of campaigning on a hot day, Sangliana breaks for a quick lunch and sets out for another gruelling round of campaigning.

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at m.boruah@ians.in)

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